RESOLVING BUILDING DEFECTS IN A STRATA COMPLEX
If you become aware of a building defect in your premises or complex, the first step to resolving it is to report it to the right person(s).
All common property defects are to be reported to your strata manager. The strata manager will then pass these on to the builder, along with all other common property defects notified to them by various owners/residents. You can either send Westside Strata an email or letter to notify us. For Westside Strata plans that are subscribed to the Mybos system, your complaint can be lodged via the online portal (using the login and password provided to you).
All internal lot defects are to be reported directly to the builder or his representative. This may be done by your solicitor on your behalf. If your premises are leased out, this may be done by your real estate agent on your behalf.
It is advisable that you keep a written, dated record of all correspondence sent directly to the builder. Consider using registered post or email. This may be needed later if your dispute remains unresolved.
All defective appliances are to be reported directly to the manufacturers. Please make sure that you have your appliance warranty documents on settlement. Manufacturers will usually ask for them when you make a warranty call.
It is our experience that about 75% of defects in a strata complex are generally resolved within the first 3 to 6 months of residents moving in.
2. CONSULT WITH A PROFESSIONAL
It is advisable that after 3 to 6 months of occupation, a professional defect report be conducted on the common property. The Owners Corporation may also choose to have the report expanded to include lot owner defects. This however would considerably increase the cost of the defect report (There is nothing preventing a lot owner from obtaining a defect report on their lot at their own expense). A defect report conducted by an experienced professional would provide the Owners Corporation with the following:
- Identify any building defects that have been missed.
- Confirm and quantify the existence of known defects.
- A professional report that can be used in dealings with the builder in aiding to have defects rectified.
- A legal document that can be forwarded to NSW Fair Trading as evidence in any complaints lodged about building defects.
3. LODGE A NSW FAIR TRADING COMPLAINT
If after being notified of defects, the builder refuses to have the defects rectified, or does not rectify them to an acceptable standard, a formal complaint should be lodged with NSW Fair Trading.
A complaint about common property defects is to be lodged by the Strata Manager, on behalf of the Owners Corporation.
A complaint about a lot owner defect is to be lodged by the lot owner or his agent.( NSW Fair Trading will not accept complaints about lot defects from the Strata Manager).
To discuss how to lodge a complaint, NSW Fair Trading can be contacted on 13 32 20, or an online complaint can be submitted via the NSW Fair Trading website.
Once NSW Fair Trading receives a complaint, they will contact the person who lodged the complaint, as well as the builder/contractors to organize for one of their inspectors to attend the property to inspect the work under dispute. This will take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks from a complaint being made.
The Fair Trading building inspection process is designed to help resolve disputes. The role of a Fair Trading Building Inspector is to assist owners and the builder to come to an agreement about how to resolve the dispute.
The Inspector will arrange to meet with the strata manager (for common property defects) or the property owner (for lot owner defects) and your contractor on-site to inspect the work under dispute and discuss the issues reported in the complaint.
IMPORTANT: Fair Trading Building Inspectors do not undertake a general inspection of the work. They visit the site to look at the specific items implicated in the dispute.
The Inspector may issue a Rectification Order if there are matters that the builder/contractor needs to rectify. The Inspector may also conclude that the builder is not responsible for the alleged defects.
4. COURT PROCEEDINGS WITH THE NSW CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
If the builder/contractor fails to comply with a Rectification order from a Fair Trading Inspector, the Owners Corporation (for common property defects) or the lot owner (for lot owner defects) will need to proceed with legal action through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the builder.
- In the case of an Owners Corporation, a resolution at a General Meeting of the Owners Corporation approving the legal action, if the legal costs are expected to be more than $1,000 per lot or $12,500 (whichever is lesser)
- Expert Building reports and Scott Schedule.