Are you responsible for organising the maintenance services for your body corporate, or another facility, in Brisbane?
Liberty Services provides a comprehensive, one stop, solution for all your common property maintenance needs. Our core business is providing regular maintenance services for body corporates & other facilities throughout Brisbane.
If your body corporate is responsible for a block of units, hundreds of townhouses or perhaps a commercial facility such as a retirement village. Liberty Services is able to assist with a one off service or tailor an ongoing maintenance plan.
A body corporate is simply a mechanism for holding and managing common property by and for the lot owners.
That makes the rules for repairs and maintenance nice and simple. The lot owners care for their own lots and the body corporate cares for the common property.
That’s pretty much where we leave simple behind though because the next question, “what is a lot and what is common property?” is one of the most hotly contested issues in body corporates.
And for good reason. It’s much cheaper to pay a portion of a repair (via levies) than it is to foot the whole cost yourself. And vice versa. No one likes to pay levies for a repair that essentially benefits one lot only. Well, not if they don’t have to anyway.
In Queensland there are two plan types: building format plan and standard format plan. Every strata scheme is the state is either a building format plan or a standard format plan.
In all cases, the actual boundaries of the various lots and the common property are shown on the plan for each particular scheme. The type of plan defines where to measure the boundaries.
Boundaries for a building format plan are measured from the centre of walls, floors and ceilings. The other side of the wall, floor or ceiling then is either common property or another lot.
For a standard format plan boundaries will be in the ground and defined by surveyors marks.
The first step in defining who is responsible for maintaining or repairing a particular piece of property will be defining who actually owns the property. If it’s a lot, then the lot owner is responsible; if it’s common property then it’s body corporate responsibility.
Which is not to suggest that all problems that manifest themselves within your lot are automatically your problem.
For instance, say you have a leak in your ceiling. In an apartment building the roof may be the source of the leak and the roof is common property. Alternatively the source may be from another lot.
Who is responsible for all the damage caused by the problem will be determined by defining ownership of the property from which the problem sources. If it’s your lot, you pay, if it’s your neighbours lot, they pay and if it’s common property then the body corporate pays. Unless the matter relates to infrastructure.
It is entirely possible that you, actually the majority of lot owners, can and will have very little involvement in the actual process of cleaning and maintaining the common property scheme.
Except for the delicate matter of the bill, of course.
Body corporates are led by Committee, the representatives from the pool of lot owners duly elected at the Annual General Meeting.
It is the Committee’s responsibility to arrange, implement and monitor common property repairs and maintenance.
Which doesn’t mean the keys to the cleaning closet are handed over at the same time as the Committee is finalised.
In all but the very smallest schemes professionals are hired to undertake cleaning and maintenance tasks. That can be as simple as employing a regular lawn mower and as complex as engaging a Building Manager under a Caretaking Agreement.
The Committee’s responsibility is to keep track of what needs addressing and make plans to address it.
Most existing body corporates will have a framework to ensure the scheme is cleaned on a regular basis. Those processes will need to be monitored and any issues addressed.
Other repair and maintenance problems, which would include everything from blown light bulbs in community lighting right up to complex structural defects, need to be addressed on a case by case basis.
The key tool for deciding what gets done and when is the budget.
Every year the Committee budgets what they’re going to spend, and what on, and estimates the cost of those outgoings. This is the budget which forms the basis of levies.
There isn’t a lot of wriggle room in the budget, which is one reason why it can take such a long time for common property issues to be addressed. The Committee is literally waiting for the opportunity to make funds available.
Obviously some things don’t have the option of waiting, like a burst pipe or fire in the scheme.
In these cases the body corporate will take action immediately and deal with the fallout later, which can include all sorts of nasty things like disputes over who is liable, special levies to recoup unintended expenditure or delays to other repairs.
In all cases, it will be the Committee responsibility to authorise action and deal with the consequences.
One of the most common issues for small to medium buildings is who is going to actually do the work. Quotes need to be obtained and authorised and the work monitored and inspected before payment can be made.
If it can be that process is outsourced to professionals, however much of it will fall to the Committee to arrange.
For larger schemes a Caretaker is appointed and a large portion of their role is to either do the works themselves or manage the process of appointing another professional.
The Caretaker reports directly to the Committee who are responsible for making decisions and authorising next steps, within the defined spending limits of the scheme.
It’s a common misconception that the BCM will organise and execute repairs and maintenance around the scheme if there is no Caretaker.
It is true that some Mangers will undertake these types of works, however, the general rule of thumb is they do not.
For most schemes the Body Corporate Manager is unlikely to be involved in maintenance issues beyond issuing a work order to an already specified workman and then paying the bill, and only then at the express direction of the Committee.
For those buildings without a Caretaker, the task of identifying needed works, obtaining quotes and monitoring works will fall to the Committee.