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Property maintenance and repairs

Information about the responsibilities of owners corporations to keep common property in good repair.

An owners corporation (OC) has to repair and maintain property and provide services that are needed for the benefit of more than one lot owner.

They may also repair or service property belonging to an individual owner if it is impractical for that lot owner to repair that service themselves. For example, if the lot owners agree, the owner corporation may engage a window cleaner to come and clean all of the external surfaces of windows in a block of flats or paint the external walls of individual owner's lots.

See ss. 46–47—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and Meetings, making and recording decisions.

Powers to get an owner to repair their lot

The OC generally has the power to make an individual lot owner carry out repairs to their own lot. They can do this if they believe the repairs are necessary because of an adverse affect that they may have on the other lot owners. For example, the OC may serve a notice that requires an owner to paint the external surface of their building, fix garage door or a noisy air conditioning unit.

See s. 48—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).

When OCs must not interfere with individual lots

The OC can not interfere with property of an individual lot owner if their powers have been restricted to the common property. This restriction is made on the plan of sub-division. These are called 'limited' owners corporations.

See s. 8—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).and ss. 27, 27G—Subdivision Act 1988 (Vic).

Who carries out repairs?

The OC may engage a person or company to do the repairs or they may do the repairs themselves. They may recover money from the owner after the repairs have been carried out.

Power to permit entry

The OC is able to permit entry to an individual lot so that the maintenance or repairs can be done. The occupier must be given at least 7 days written notice unless the repairs are needed in an emergency.

An emergency is defined as being an interruption to gas, water, phone, sewerage or electricity or a cracking or similar problem that is of a structural nature.

See ss. 48–51—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).

Maintenance plan

Maintenance plans are not compulsory unless the owners corporation is 'prescribed' under the Act. Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) recommends that these plans should be made by most owners corporations as planning is part of the responsible management of common assets.

A management plan should include:

  • major capital expenses that are expected over the next 10 years
  • appraisal of the present condition of assets
  • an estimation of the cost and expected date that parts will need to be repaired or replaced
  • a forecast of how long the items are expected to last.

These plans do not have any effect until they have been approved by the owners corporation.

See ss. 36–39—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and Responsibilities of owners corporations.

Maintenance fund

If a maintenance plan is approved, a fund must be set up in the name of the owners corporation. This fund is often referred to as a 'sinking fund'. Once established, this fund should only be used to implement the maintenance plan, unless the owners corporation agrees by special resolution or unless the matter is urgent.

See ss. 40–45—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and Meetings, making and recording decisions.

Upgrades to property

The owners corporation needs a special resolution of lot owners if they want to carry out significant improvements in cases where the works:

  • need a planning or building permit, or
  • are expected to cost will be more than twice the total amount of the current annual fees.

This does not apply if the works have been included in approved maintenance plan.

See s. 53—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).

Significant changes to property

The owners corporation needs a special resolution of lot owners if they want to make significant changes to the common property unless:

  • this has been approved under the maintenance plan, or
  • an immediate change is necessary to prevent significant loss or damage.

An example of a significant change could be replacing the stair-carpet with tiles or tinting the windows.

See s. 52—Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) and Meetings, making and recording decisions.

More information

Legislation

Owners Corporation Act 2006 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines 'lot owner', 'owners corporation'
  • s. 8—an owners corporation that is limited to common property
  • Part 3 Div 3—maintenance plan
  • Part 3 Div 4—maintenance fund
  • Part 3 Div 5—asset management

See Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic).

Owners Corporations Regulations 2018 (Vic)

  • r. 5—defines a prescribed owners corporation
  • r. 6—prescribed owners corporations have more than 100 lots or levy more than $200,000 in annual fees

See Owners Corporations Regulations 2018 (Vic).

Subdivision Act 1988 (Vic)

  • Part 5—subdivisions with owners corporations
  • s. 27—how is an owners corporation created?
  • s. 27A—if there is common property an owners corporation must be created
  • s. 27B—defines an unlimited owners corporation
  • s. 27C—defines a limited owners corporation
  • s. 27G—owners corporation may be limited to common property

See Subdivision Act 1988 (Vic).

Reference

The Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service's Law Handbook chapter about owners corporations has information about repairs and maintenance.

See Owners corporations.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)

The Owners corporation 'Property maintenance' section of the CAV site has information to help lot owners to comply with their property maintenance obligations.

See Consumer Affairs Victoria—Owners corporations.

Updated