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Who Is Responsible: Strata Plumbing

Buying into a strata scheme and unsure about an owner’s responsibilities when it comes to plumbing? Read on to know who is liable for common plumbing issues in strata properties. 

If you’re new to strata living, you are perhaps full of questions about this modern way of community living.

Although strata schemes were developed to ease the lives of property owners and rectify issues in existing models, there are still a few complications with this method of co-ownership. Anyhow, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the formalities, which include legal by-laws, rigorous assessments, insurance policies, and strata plans.

The lines between what is and isn’t common property get blurred easily in a strata scheme. And if you are dealing with an unforeseen plumbing issue at home, you would want to know who is liable for it before the problem worsens.

However, playing by the book is essential to maintain communal harmony, so be patient and carefully go through this guide on strata plumbing before taking the next step.

What Is Strata Scheme And Strata Plumbing?

A strata scheme comprises common property and strata lots bought by individual owners. All the owners make up the owner’s corporation (OC), and they share the common property, jointly footing the bill and taking responsibility for maintaining the shared areas. These usually include exterior elements, such as dry wells, stairwells, and gardens.

At the same time, the owner is responsible for taking care of the parts that are demarcated as part of their lot. On that note, a lot could be a townhouse, apartment, unit, and all its interiors, which includes indoor plumbing.

While the set of rules may seem straightforward, there are a few complications when it comes to strata plumbing lines and pipes. Strata plumbing comprises the underlying pipework shared by all the owners, which enables the water to flow in and out of the lots and surrounding common areas. This interconnected plumbing system also includes fixtures and fittings.

Strata Plumber Fixing Sink In Common Area

How Is A Plumbing Issue Assessed?

Plumbing issues can be complex matters in a strata scheme as owned lots generally do not have separate pipelines. Instead, the network of pipes runs throughout the building, often crossing common properties and owned lots, making it difficult to determine who is liable when plumbing issues arise. Needless to say, a detailed assessment has to be made before coming to a conclusion.

For instance, a leaking or burst pipe may cause damage to the owner’s private property or a part of the shared exteriors. Here, a plumbing specialist will conduct a complex liability assessment to determine who owns the portion of the plumbing system that has been compromised.

This process usually involves the participation of loss adjusters, legal counsellors, and the insurance companies of the OC and any individual owner suspected of causing the plumbing issue.

But first, a specialist is consulted to assess the plumbing issue and diagnose the problem. Once the verdict is out, the legal and financial players will resolve the issue while referring to the applicable by-laws and strata plan. In the end, the owner’s corporation or owner may be held liable to pay for repair services and compensate for damages.

Common Strata Plumbing Issues And Who Is Responsible For Them?

Strata schemes are a convenient and modern way of co-ownership ruled by legal by-laws and regulations that ease the problem-solving process in case of issues around the property. These include common strata plumbing problems, such as mould and leaking pipes.

In these scenarios, a skilled plumber is hired to investigate the issue and use specialised tools to locate the problem. The professional will then produce a report, which can be used by the owner or owner’s corporation and other legal and financial players in disputes and negotiations.

While legal advisors and other specialists are indispensable to making an informed decision, here are some general guidelines about who is responsible for common strata plumbing issues.

Strata Plumbing Inspection

1. Burst Pipes

Generally, burst pipes under the property floor are caused by weak infrastructure, freezing temperatures, installation issues, blockages, or high water pressure. The owner’s corporation will be liable for any damages in such cases.

However, burst pipes on the lot, including in the bathroom or kitchen sinks and laundry trough, are identified as the owner’s responsibility. Both instances require a thorough inspection before determining who is liable.

2. Leaking Pipes

Water dripping on your balcony from the apartment above could indicate that your neighbour has a leaking pipe. In most cases, the private owner is held responsible for such pipe leaks and required to compensate for any damage. At the same time, water leaking through the ceiling and tiles could be traced back to installation flaws, which are the OC’s responsibility.

Alternatively, if you notice water from a leaking pipe seeping into your property from another lot, the private owner of the other lot may be responsible. But before jumping to conclusions, ensure that the leak is caused by the property’s internal fixtures and not in the plumbing lines installed between shared walls.

3. Leaking Fixtures

More often than not, leaks in internal fixtures, such as showers, sinks, baths, and shower taps, are considered the owner’s liability. However, leaks in interior fixtures due to issues in the infrastructure are not unheard of, in which case the OC will be liable.

4. Mould

Dampness or mould can be traced back to issues in the plumbing system, or they may result from condensation on the inside. For instance, damp walls caused by cooking or the use of a dryer are the private owner’s responsibility.

On the other hand, the OC is liable for condensation or water penetrating from external walls or the floor, possibly because of flaws in the infrastructure or pipelines.

Understanding Strata Plumbing

Before we wrap things up, we must mention that the information in this guide is only meant to provide a general understanding of common strata plumbing issues. As mentioned earlier, determining who is responsible for these problems requires meticulous inspection, and the results will vary from scenario to scenario.

So, if you are faced with a plumbing mishap, it is best to refer to copies of an updated common property title, registered by-laws, and strata plans. You must consult a legal advisor and any other qualified professional to make an informed decision.

On that note, be responsible and stay aware. Until next time!

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