Villa owner wins a four year strata battle
A COFFS Harbour Owners Corporation has been forced to meet its common property obligations, after a four year battle with one of the property owners over a technicality.
In 2013, Dr Anne Davis asked her Owners Corporation to repair the balcony sliding door on the bedroom of her Five Islands Drive villa, after she noticed rain blowing inside during severe storms.
Under NSW strata laws, Owners Corporations are responsible for repairs and maintenance of common property, which includes external doors and windows.
Dr Davis' lawyer, Andy Munro from Slater and Gordon, said the Owners Corporation tried to claim the defect was not its responsibility.
"This issue was raised in February 2013 and after four years, multiple expert reports and two tribunal hearings, we have finally been able to hold the Owners Corp to account," Mr Munro said.
"The Owners Corp originally produced an expert report saying renovations carried out by Dr Davis had caused the door leak, but under cross-examination in the appeal the engineer admitted he'd never actually inspected her home," he said.
"The first NCAT adjudicator who heard this case unknowingly relied on this report, which was based purely on speculation, so we appealed the decision and got the Tribunal to accept a report from an expert who had actually inspected the place."
Mr Munro said this expert found no evidence that the renovation had caused the leak but rather that the door was defective, so the tribunal overturned the first decision and ordered the Owners Corporation to repair the sliding door.
"This isn't the first time an Owners Corporation has tried to shirk their responsibilities by claiming a technicality, and it won't be the last," Mr Munro said.
"But this case shows that lot owners can successfully stand up for their rights if they're willing to go the distance."
Dr Davis said her experience should be a lesson in perseverance for NSW strata owners.
"The Owners Corporation is all too happy to take our strata fees, but then it's like pulling teeth when you ask them to hold up their end of the bargain," she said.
"I hope this sends a message to property owners that they shouldn't allow themselves to be pushed around."