What to do if your apartment building isn't being maintained to an ideal standard

What to do if your apartment building isn't being maintained to an ideal standard
Melvie April 23, 2020

Urban.com.au has recently reported that buyers are now demanding that more homes be built to a higher standard, using quality, safe and eco-conscious building materials. This shows that buyers are playing a more active role in identifying safe and reliable housing.

Regrettably though, once buyers move into a building, many of them no longer show the same vigilance regarding the ongoing maintenance of the building they now occupy or in which they invested.

So the question is, What to do if your apartment building isn't being maintained to an ideal standard?

The answer: Get involved. Become an active member of your owners corporation.

This means attending the annual general meetings and making yourself available to join your Owners Corporation Committee, so as to be involved in the many discussions and decisions regarding the needs of your property. 

A committee consists of a group of owners elected at each Annual General Meeting who represent all the lot owners of your owners corporation. The committee is delegated the authority to make decisions on all matters in relation to the owners corporation. These include the control, maintenance and repair of the common property. The committee also has the responsibility of enforcing the owners corporation rules.

The owners also have the opportunity of setting up a maintenance plan which covers corrective and predictable maintenance of the building. This plan can be based on a ten- or fifteen-year forecast.

What could happen when one fails to get involved? To illustrate:

  • At one property in Melbourne’s CBD, only three out of the 395 lots were represented at the Annual General Meeting and none of these members wanted to serve on the committee. The reluctance of the members to be involved made it very difficult for this apartment building to be kept maintained to an ideal standard. This is why it is important that you be involved.
  • At another property in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, consisting of 80 commercial/professional lots, a general meeting was called to resolve whether the Owners Corporation would fund balcony repairs that were actually private to the value of $280,000.00. Against all legal advice presented by the manager, an interim decision was reached by a vocal minority that disadvantaged those who failed to attend. 

These and many other examples show the result when members fail to get involved.

The Role of Committees

Committees under the direction of an owners corporation manager, would act in the following manner:

  • Act honestly and in good faith; 
  • Exercise due care and diligence; 
  • Not make improper use of their position as a member to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for themselves or any other person;
  • Report to the Owners Corporation at each annual general meeting; 
  • Act in accordance with the relevant Act and Regulations in your state or territory;
  • Ensure that decisions and activities are always recorded in minutes of meetings; 
  • Submit minutes of all committee meetings to the owners corporation as part of the committee’s report at every annual general meeting;
  • Ensure new committee members are given copies of the legislation; 
  • Consider and approve the Annual Budget 
  • Consider and approve all maintenance works
  • Consider and decide on grievances
  • Consider and decide on any legal matters to be followed 

In my 12 years in the Owners Corporation industry, I have found that the buildings that are best maintained are those with an active and vibrant committee, where differences of opinion are set aside for the greater good of all occupants and owners.

I have seen committees make brave decisions, assisted by their OC Manager, to ensure compliance with the Act and to balance the needs of all stakeholders. Some of the best committee members are those who are busiest in their professional and personal life but who take an active interest in their investment by getting involved to ensure that the building in which they reside or invest is maintained to an ideal standard.

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