Balcony maintenance and repairs in strata – who is responsible?

Outdoor living and entertaining around the home is part of life in Australia and many apartments have balconies or decks included in their designs. There is often confusion around whether balconies are part of common property or part of a lot and who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of decks and balconies.

Are balconies and decks part of common property or a lot?

Balcony structural elements which are affixed at the time of registration of the strata plan are common property and as such the responsibility for the repair and maintenance of balconies falls on the owners corporation or bodies corporate.

A balcony can have several components:

  • Structural elements
  • Balustrade, columns and railings
  • Surface tiles
  • Waterproof membrane
  • Airspace
  • Concrete slab, which may include:
    the balcony ceiling
    balcony doors, windows and walls
    awnings or pergolas

Who is responsible for balcony repairs in strata?

Making changes to your balcony is something that should be discussed with your owners corporation or body corporate prior to any works being undertaken. Tiles that have been laid well bond with the waterproof membrane below and removing them without damage is a challenge.

A lot owner owns the airspace within their lot, and anything included in the airspace, such as the inside the boundary walls, floor and ceiling of the lot.

However, when it comes to balconies, things are slightly more complex and determining if the walls, windows, and doors are part of common property depend on the date of when strata plan was registered and the details of the scheme’s strata plan.

In New South Wales, if the strata plan was registered before 1 July 1974, the balcony walls including the windows and door and their working parts are generally part of the lot and the lot owner’s responsibility for maintenance and repairs (unless there is a notation on the strata plan or the balconies are not shown on the strata plan).

If the plan was registered after 1 July 1974, the balcony walls including the windows and doors and their working parts are generally common property and the owners corporation’s responsibility (unless the strata plan says otherwise). With the exception to flyscreens and/or security doors where they were installed by an owner after registration of the strata plan.

Although the lot owner owns the airspace on their balcony, they still may be subject to further restrictions on what can and cannot be done on a balcony such as hanging of washing, having BBQs, the types of furniture permitted, or smoking. Review your by-laws on what can and can’t be done.

Related question from our StrataFAQ community

Q: Who is responsible for maintaining the rollers and track on the doors separating my living room and my balcony?

A: It will be best to check your building format plan/body corporate plan. This document will show you which parts of your lot are your responsibility to maintain/repair and which areas are body corporate responsibility…

Who is responsible for repairing balcony floor tiles in a strata property?

 Generally, if the tiles were there on the registration of the strata plan, then they are the responsibility of the owners corporation or body corporate.

If they were installed after registration by the owners then they are the owner’s responsibility. However, always refer to the strata plan for a clear indication of the balconies boundaries as these differ scheme to scheme depending on the strata plan (or building format plan).

Ensure balcony safety is part of your strata maintenance checklist

There have been several recent incidents involving balconies and decks that resulted in injury and death so it’s important that balconies, decks, balustrades and railings meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards.

Being extra safety conscious with decks and balconies is important as they are often above ground level which increases the risks of serious injuries from accidents.

Most decks and balconies will be built from timber, steel or concrete – or a combination of these materials. Over time several things can influence the safety of the structure such as corrosive environments, particularly on the coast, can affect steel structures and components, steel reinforcements and fixings such as bolts and fixing plates. Take care by ensuring these aspects form part of your maintenance checks.

Balconies should be checked and painted in concrete buildings as part of their regular maintenance. The paint seals the concrete against moisture penetration. Refer to a professional painter for guidance as they can inspect the building prior to painting and will identify spalling issues before painting.

If you’d like to find out more on building compliance for your strata property, download our FREE building compliance guide