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NSW Body Corporate Obligations for Repairs to Common Property

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Lawquestions, 23 October 2014.

  1. Lawquestions

    Lawquestions Active Member

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    Five units in a block of thirteen units had pergolas replaced. The pergolas are lightweight hollow section metal with colourbond finish and are supported on existing brick columns, ten of which are isolated brick columns. The Executive Committee ( Body Corporate) were advised by an engineer that the brick columns are unsafe in respect to the five apartments with external pergolas.

    Various companies were asked to quote to repair the pillars (many declined) and the cheapest quote obtained was for $74k to fix the pillars. It was voted against by the unit owners 6 votes to 5 votes. 2 owners did not vote. I am an owner and that wants the repairs done.

    The owners who do not want the work done now want to go to the Local Council to dismantle the lightweight, reportedly non-structural pergolas. They then wish to lower the height of the isolated brick columns to a course above existing handrail level. (The fixing to brickwork incorporates only masonry plugs). This would incorporate removing approximately 17 courses of bricks in the isolated brick columns. The procedure would apply to the five only apartments with external pergolas. The remaining eight apartments have no pergolas. The current pergolas are reportedly non-structural, carry no cladding and are reportedly non-essential. No quotes have been obtained to dismantle the pillars and no compensation has been considered for the units who will have their pergolas removed.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Were the pergolas certified at the time of installation?

    Are they on the common property, or on each (applicable) lot?
     
  3. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    1. First, ascertain whether the pergola is on your property or considered common area.You should be able to find this by looking at your property plan (used for sale and purchase) or by asking your local council. If they are on common property then the body corporate will manage the pergolas, including whether or not to remove them.

    2. Second, as Tim asked, is the pergola allowed? They will need to be permitted by both the council and your building agreement (i.e. the agreement between the owners of the individual units and the building corporate), if you have one. If the building agreement is silent then it is presumed to be allowed.
     
  4. Lawquestions

    Lawquestions Active Member

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    Hi

    1. I'm not aware of any certification process when the new pergolas were installed.
    2. My understanding is that the balconies, brick piers and pergolas are all common property.

    Regards
    LawQuestions
     
  5. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi LawQuestions,

    1. Double check your sale and purchase (or rental) agreement to see if the areas are common areas. Otherwise, check with your local council.
    2. If it is common area, it is either managed or owned by the Body Corporate which means essentially they have the last say on what happens to the structures. The Body Corporate should represent the owners as a whole so unfortunately, there's not much you can do where the majority of the owners disagree. However, I recommend double checking this with a lawyer or someone from your local community legal centre.
    3. Contacting the NSW Fair Trading Department could ask be a potential source of information.

    Best of luck with it!
     

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