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Strata Window Maintenance: Must-Know Tips and Who Is Responsible.


04 Sep 2023

All properties require maintenance, even more so for residential strata properties. While these popular living arrangements with shared facilities provide a relaxed living space, problems can arise regarding maintenance responsibilities.
 
In the case of windows, it can be tricky to know who is responsible for home windows replacement and care. There are a few things to consider here, and the responsibility for said windows maintenance really depends on the boundary and type of repair - among other things. 
 
In this blog, we'll look at the common causes of strata window replacement and maintenance, and address the question of who bears the responsibility for this crucial upkeep.

Common Causes of Strata Window Replacement and Maintenance

Maintaining any home window is essential, and a strata building is no different. Proper strata window maintenance is essential not only for aesthetics but also for the comfort and safety of everyone within the property.
 
Before going into individual responsibilities, let’s highlight some of the common reasons why a strata window might need repairs or replacements:
  1. Weather: Rain, snow, wind, and UV radiation can deteriorate window frames, seals, and glass panes.
  2. Poor Installation: Poorly installed windows may not provide adequate insulation or protection.
  3. Physical Damage: Accidents can happen, and it’s common for windows to crack and shatter from impacts.
  4. Moisture and Condensation: Moisture and condensation can seep into window frames, which causes wood rot and mould growth.
  5. Ageing: Even well-maintained windows can experience wear over time and may need to be replaced.
  6. Neglected Maintenance: It’s important to regularly clean and maintain windows to prevent dirt buildup. Dirt doesn’t just obstruct one’s view but also causes damage to window components.


Are Windows Maintenance and Replacement Covered by Strata?

Understanding the responsibilities of window maintenance in a strata property can take time and effort. Here are some things to consider when deciding if the property owner or owners corporation should cover a strata home window replacement.

Window Boundaries

It is vital to check lot boundaries when it comes down to window repairs and maintenance. This means checking the lot boundary of the window’s location on the plan of subdivision or the strata plan. Is the boundary located at the interior face, median face, or external face of the lot? If the boundary is a median (shared) or exterior face lot, the owners corporation may have an obligation to carry out repairs.

Common or Private Area

The owners corporation has an obligation to maintain common areas of the building. However, private properties (i.e. individual lots) are under the obligation of the lot owner. If a lot owner hasn’t done the necessary home window replacement or repair work, and if it’s affecting the external appearance of the building, then the owners corporation can issue a legal notice and request the owner to fix the issue.

Strata By-Laws

Specific strata agreements can vary based on the governing state and the strata by-laws. Some strata corporations might have different arrangements that list windows as a common area for maintenance purposes. This is usually in cases where access to windows for maintenance or replacement is difficult without entering individual units.

Rising Dampness

Rising dampness is when moisture from the soil surrounding a building finds its way into the structure, creating a mould issue visible on the interior face of the window area and wall. It is particularly common in older homes that haven’t undergone waterproofing, or it may be damaged or never installed in the first instance. Poor maintenance of structural building defects could also cause rising dampness.

What Should Lot Owners and The Owners Corporation Do?

It’s always important to check the plan of subdivision and strata by-laws for an accurate assessment of responsibility, and take the necessary steps to fix the issue. If a broken window requires immediate repair, it’s highly advisable to act as soon as possible.
 
For rising dampness, the solution may require further investigation. To determine if this issue is private or common, a plumber or a raising damp specialist will need to be called to investigate and report.
 
If the matter is deemed to be related to poor maintenance due to a slow water leak from a pipe servicing the unit, then the lot owner of the unit will be responsible and must pay for the cost of investigation and repairs. However, if the matter is related to moisture emitting from the external ground, then the owners corporation must pay for the expenses.
 
In any case, the owners corporation committee may wish to cover the cost of the initial investigation or ask the lot owner if they are happy to pay once the issue is determined to be private.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, strata window maintenance is a collective effort of both the individual unit owners and the owners corporation. By understanding each other and each party's responsibilities, both residents can contribute to a comfortable living environment that benefits everyone involved.
 
At Australia Strata Management, we understand the complexities of strata, including navigating the responsibilities of window maintenance. With over 30 years in the business, we aim to help all owners corporations maintain an efficient property that benefits all its residents.
 
For a no-obligation consultation about our property management services, contact our team today.