Consumer Information

Author: STONEWOOD
25 February 2021

8 MAINTENANCE CHECKS ALL SCHEMES SHOULD PERFORM REGULARLY 

In a sectional title scheme, the trustees are responsible to ensure that the common property is managed and maintained within the legislative and budget parameters and provisions. Careful consideration must be given to the maintenance of the common property as it will not only affect the annual budget but also the levies payable by the members and the appearance and value of the units in the scheme.

Other than the 10-year maintenance repair and replacement plan (MRRP), making provision for maintenance and repairs of a capital nature (not monthly or annual expenses), there are basic items that must be checked that will prevent unnecessary costs and damage.

Some of the most common items to check for maintenance or repairs are

1.  Checking the gutters before the rainy reason
During the year, and especially during summer when wind is more prevalent, gutters can fill up with debris like leaves and branches that become stuck in the down pipes. Clearing the gutters and the down pipes will prevent the overflow of gutters when it rains and prevent damage to units, especially those on the top floor.

2.  Checking the roof
An annual inspection of the roof by an experienced roof contractor will allow the trustees to manage potential risk by ensuring that any areas of concern, such as loose tiles or sheets, are replaced or repaired before the rainy season. This kind of inspection is especially important in older buildings where the roof has never been replaced or where the roof consist of asbestos (prone to cracks due to age).

3.  Cutting back any trees or bushes that may damage roofs, walls or cars
Trees and bushes can cause damage to property and other items such as vehicles, carports, roofs and personal belongings. During windy and rainy seasons old branches and bushes can be dislodged and blown against buildings and other structures, causing substantial damage. Schemes with many trees and bushes should have these maintained monthly by a gardening company to reduce the risk of damage to property.

4.  Checking firefighting equipment
All fire equipment must be serviced annually and in certain instances, where sprinkler systems are in place, it may need to be done every two years. This maintenance item is particularly important as the non-servicing of equipment may result in the scheme not being covered by their insurance should a fire destroy part of, or the entire complex.

5.  Refuse room, rat traps and general pest control
Refuse rooms are always a catalyst for pests such as rats, cockroaches, mice and ants. A regular pest control service will assist with keeping these pests at bay and keeping the refuse rooms free of unwanted odours. Pest control should also be extended to other areas in the complex to curb pests from entering the complex at the most obvious places.

6.  Lights, railings, loose tiles in walkways and drive ways
Regular inspections of the common property will allow the trustees to address items such as the replacement of lights, repair of leaking taps and replacement of broken tiles where required. Although these are not necessarily annual maintenance items to consider, frequent inspections of the common property will highlight any potential hazards.

It is important to pay attention to these types of items as it may lead to residents and visitors getting injured. Broken tiles or lights that are not working can lead to someone tripping and hurting themselves. Neglect on the side of the body corporate can lead to public liability claims against the body corporate insurance for injuries suffered due to a lack of maintenance.

7.  Vehicle access gates
Owing to the high-volume use of vehicle access gates, it is recommended that the motors are serviced regularly, in intervals of three months to ensure maximum performance. This will also allow for the early detection of electrical or motor faults that can then be addressed, allowing for continued use without excessive costs involved.

8.  Sewer and drainage pipes
These pipes can be damaged by roots of trees, the soil around the pipes and even by vehicles driving over the pipes. Having plumbers assess the status of the pipes on a regular basis will help prolong their use and detect possible weak spots. These checks should be done at least once a year or when there are indications of a drop of water pressure.

Conclusion

Each sectional title complex is different in its design and layout. The appointed trustees should have a maintenance schedule prepared every year where each item on the common property gets assessed, checked and serviced.

If these schedules and maintenance timelines are adhered to, bodies corporate will pro-actively be addressing their maintenance responsibilities and ultimately reduce their maintenance costs.

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