How to select a defects specialist

How to select a defects specialist

Selecting the right strata manager to handle defects on your property

 

The right strata, owners corporation, or body corporate manager can make a massive difference to how owners and committees experience a defects process. A strata manager is a professional service, and during this process acts as a key trusted advisor. But, how to pick a defects specialist and how do you know which manager or company is appropriate?

For managers to successfully deal with a rectification process, it comes down to whether they have the resources and support to allocate enough time to properly manage a defect rectification process. Defects processes can end up consuming around 75% of a manager’s time. Look for a management company that can provide support at scale.
For example, at PICA Group, newly constructed buildings are strategically allocated across management portfolios so no one manager becomes overburdened with defects. What’s more, with some strata management companies we have a strata manager to strata assistant ratio of one to one. This means our fully registered strata managers have a dedicated strata assistant managing the huge administration associated with defects.

Much of the work you’ll need your strata manager to undertake in the defects process will sit outside of your strata management agreement and will be billed as additional fees and costs. It is worthwhile having an upfront conversation with your strata manager and all owners, to understand the billing and work process of the manager during the defects.
If you’re wondering how to select a defects specialist or whether your current strata management company is the one, don’t be scared to ask them directly about their experience, and whether they have the processes in place to deal with it.

The obligations to fix building defects across states

New South Wales
Owners corporations are required to maintain and repair the common property. However, the owners corporation can defer compliance in the event that action has been taken against a responsible party if the deferment does not affect the safety of the building or common property. If the owners corporation fails in their duty to repair and maintain the property, an affected owner may recover damages, or any losses suffered. There are provisions relating to building defects in the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (Section 189 to 215) including, requirements relating to inspection reports and building bonds.

Queensland
Body corporates must maintain common property. For properties created under building format plans, the body corporate is required to maintain railings, parapets and balustrades on the common property boundaries, doors, windows and fittings situated on common property boundaries, roofing membranes that are not common property but provide protection for lots or common property, foundation structures, roofing structures and essential supporting framework.

Victoria
Owners corporations must repair and maintain the common property and related services, chattels, fixates, and fittings.

A tribunal or court might rule for owners to fix and within a set time frame

Given defects are guided by a legal process, there is always the chance that once defects are known, and the issue goes to a tribunal or court, that the court could rule that the committees and owners are responsible. Here, the court could order the time and way the defects should be fixed, and to what standards. Therefore, committee and owner obligations to fix common property defects can be directed or enforced by the courts. Defect rectification processes are often long, highly stressful, and expensive. The mental, physical, and psychological impacts can be huge, and a cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken. For example, your defects might be worth $250,000, but the legal fees will be $150,000. Rather than arguing or pursuing litigation for the foreseeable future, owners and the committee may vote to raise a special levy or fee and undertake the repair work themselves; this would require a majority vote.

If you’d like to find out more about building compliance for your strata property, download our FREE Community Living guide. Or for a consultation to review your common property insurance by our CommunitySure insurance team, click here.

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