Ongoing issues with leaky buildings and earthquake strengthening have seen unit holders in body corporates having to shell out considerable sums for work to other units. This no doubt will have many wondering – is this fair? Why am I paying for somebody else’s problem?

The Unit Titles Act 2010 is clear that it is the responsibility of the body corporate to “manage, maintain, and keep in a good state of repair” all building elements that relate to or serve more than one unit. Seismic strengthening, for example, is therefore likely to be the body corporate’s responsibility, because the collapse of a supporting wall would obviously affect the structural integrity of a number of, if not all, the units.

Unfortunately, the law about a process for dividing costs for work completed on a building by the body corporate is less clear. Basically, it is uncertain whether the body corporate should recover its costs from the owner of the unit that was actually repaired, or divide the costs between the units that substantially benefit from the work.

Some of the courts’ statements in leaky homes cases support the second option. The courts have said that failing to undertake repairs or carrying out inadequate repairs to leaky buildings will affect other unit owners, given that the leaking will occur from above and eventually damage more units. Over time this would reduce the value of other units and possibly the whole complex. As a result, the repair costs should be divided amongst all the unit owners in the body corporate.

This is a complicated area of law, and it is important to get sound advice from a professional. If you have any concerns about your body corporate, give Claire Tyler a call on (04) 473 6850.