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Leaky roof sets the ceiling on Body Corporate maintenance responsibilities

A nine-year dispute between lot owners and the Body Corporate for Oceans Mooloolaba CTS 34623 has recently led to an adjudicator determining the extent of a Body Corporate's responsibility to pay for damages resulting from the failure of a roofing membrane within the scheme. 

The applicants were owners of penthouse lots with exclusive use of outdoor rooftop entertainment areas. Such rooftop areas had been laid with ceramic tiles over a water-proofing membrane designed to protect the concrete substrate underneath. The outdoor areas were also covered by shade sails. The failure of the waterproofing membrane had been the subject of numerous complaints by the applicants, who sought orders that the Body Corporate be held liable for the costs to replace such membrane along with the tiles and shade sails. The applicants argued that such items formed part of the Body Corporate's responsibility to maintain and repair the building. In considering the matter, the adjudicator found that the Body Corporate was responsible for the costs of replacing the roofing membrane and provided guidance as to the Body Corporate's liability in respect of the tiles and the shade sail structure.

In respect of the tiles, it was determined that a body corporate was not responsible for replacing or maintaining tiles on an owner's balcony - except in circumstances like these where the membrane has failed and the tiles needed to be removed to effect repair.

As for the shade sails, the Body Corporate was found to have an obligation to maintain covering structures that 'provide protection' to the building. In this instance the Body Corporate was not liable for the replacement of the shade sail for reason that the material used did not provide 'full weather protection'. This outcome may have been different had the sail acted as a weather-protecting roof over the lot. The Body Corporate's minor victory in relation to the shade sail was overshadowed by the orders that were made to replace the membrane and tiles for several lots.

Takeaway Points

  • Decisions such as these are an important reminder to Body Corporate Committees of the need to inspect and attend to reported waterproofing failures before they become major concerns.
  • This decision is relevant not only to Schemes with outdoor rooftop areas but also other areas (such as balconies) in which a Body Corporate may be requested by a lot owner to maintain, repair or replace membranes, tiles and other structures .
  • the costs of repairs could have been minimised, and legal costs avoided, if the Body Corporate had acted when it first became aware of the matter.

If you are a member of a Body Corporate Committee or a lot owner and require any advice in relation to a Body Corporate's maintenance obligations,then please contact Matthew Jones.

 

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