Strata repairs and maintenance
Understand how to get repairs and maintenance done, who is responsible for it, and what to do if there's a problem.
- The owners corporation is responsible for maintenance and repair of common property – owners repair anything in their own property.
- Owners should ask their strata manager or strata committee for common property repairs. Tenants should ask their landlord.
- The owners corporation plans and pays for repairs to common property, including fixing defects.
Who is responsible for strata repairs?
Property owners must repair and maintain anything within their property. All strata property, including duplexes, are required to follow these strata repair and maintenance rules.
The owners corporation or strata committee must repair and maintain common property.
In most cases, this is who’s responsible for common repairs:
- Changes you have made to the ceiling
- Internal walls
- Carpet in your property
- Internal painting or wallpapering
- Lights that hang into your property
- Window cleaning, unless you can’t access it (for example, if it is too high)
- Plumbing in internal walls and fixtures (such as baths, toilets, sinks and showers)
- Water damage coming from inside your property
- Broken appliances or whitegoods
- Roof and gutters
- Ceiling, (except painting) unless the problem is due to changes the owner has made
- Boundary walls
- Concrete slab (floor)
- Carpets on common property (such as hallways)
- Lights on common property
- Any lights recessed into the ceiling
- Garage repairs
- Balconies and balcony doors
- Windows and window locks
- Plumbing in boundary walls and under the floor
- Water damage coming from common property
If you can’t find the answer to who should make a repair, check your strata plan and by-laws. You can ask the owners corporation, strata committee secretary, strata manager or your real estate agent for a copy. Alternately, you can purchase a copy from a NSW LRS approved information broker.
There is a difference between repairs and renovations. If you wish to complete a renovation on your property, read more about renovations in strata.
If you are responsible for the repair, contact a tradesperson to arrange it. Remember to make sure the person is licensed. If you are a tenant, contact your real estate agent or landlord.
Contact the owners corporation, strata committee or strata manager if you think they need to make a repair on your property. They will inform you whether they can help with the repair, or if you are responsible for the repair yourself.
If the owners corporation is responsible, they will organise a tradesperson to make the repair.
If you see common property that needs repairing, notify your building manager, strata manager or strata committee. Unless urgent or likely to cause a security or safety issue, owners in the property may wish to check the minutes from previous meetings (such as the AGM) to see whether the issue has been discussed and the repair has been planned for – although it may have been raised separately in a strata committee meeting.
Strata schemes should use their capital works plan to inform a detailed maintenance schedule for the property.
This will give both you and the owners corporation an opportunity to discuss the repair and come to an agreement about who will take care of it.
If the owners corporation still refuses to make a repair, consider applying for mediation offered by NSW Fair Trading. Mediation is a free service that helps solve disagreements between owners and the owners corporation.
Hayley discovers water leaking onto the floor in her strata unit. Upon investigating, she finds that a pipe is leaking under her kitchen sink. Because Hayley is responsible for plumbing in internal walls and fixtures, she calls a plumber to come fix the issue the next day.
Harvey discovers water leaking down his wall in his strata unit. Upon investigating, he finds out that the water is coming from his upstairs neighbour’s bathroom. The owners corporation is responsible for plumbing in boundary walls and floors, so Harvey contacts his strata manager to let him know there is a problem. The strata manager organises a plumber to fix the issue the next day.
If possible, notify your strata manager of the problem and/or get advice from a strata committee member as soon as you can.
Check the website of your strata management company for a list of emergency tradespeople you can hire. This may also outline protocols for emergency repairs.
If there is no emergency contact list, you can choose who to hire.
Once the repair is complete, you may be eligible for a refund from the owners corporation.
To get your money back, you will need to show that the repair was caused by something the owners corporation is responsible for (for example, water damage from plumbing in a boundary wall).
You might also need to show it was necessary and urgent to call the tradesperson. Take photographic evidence, and ask the tradesperson to give you written details explaining the problem and what was done to fix it.
Sarah discovers that a pipe has burst outside her apartment and water is leaking into her bathroom. Sarah calls a plumber straight away who can come and solve the issue. She also notifies her strata manager. The plumber fixes the pipe and Sarah pays the invoice. She then sends the invoice to her strata manager and requests to be reimbursed.
Contact your real estate agent or landlord for any repairs. They can arrange the repair for you.
If it is outside business hours or you are unable to reach them, check your lease agreement to see what repairs are judged as 'urgent’ and if the agreement lists any nominated repairers.
You may be able to call an emergency tradesperson and receive a refund from your landlord.
Stuart’s toilet in his rental unit is broken and the water won’t stop running, so he contacts his real estate agent to inform them of the situation. However, the real estate agent is not responding. Stuart calls a plumber himself and the plumber come and fixes the toilet. The next day Stuart gets in contact with his real estate agent, and they agree to reimburse Stuart for the repair.
Repairing common property
What is common property?
Generally, common property is any area used by all residents or anything of structural importance. For example, driveways and gardens, roofs, pipes, cables and external walls.
If you do not have a common property definition, your strata scheme can pass a special resolution to use the common property memorandum (PDF 46.54KB), a document developed by the NSW Government for what is and isn’t common property.
You cannot change the prescribed memorandum, except to:
- take out things that do not apply to your scheme (like a pool)
- reflect current changes from common property by-laws in the scheme.
Managing minor repairs
Minor repairs to common property can be managed by the strata committee, strata manager or building manager without the need for a meeting.
Most minor repairs can be paid for using the administrative fund.
A light in the hallway of a building has stopped working. A strata committee member calls an electrician that comes during the week to change the light. The repair is paid for using the administrative fund.
Managing major repairs
The owners corporation must make a 10-year capital works plan. The plan predicts what major repairs might be needed and forecasts their costs.
You can check the records from your last annual general meeting (AGM) or ask the secretary or strata manager for a copy of the 10-year plan if you don’t have one.
A strata committee meeting may be necessary to arrange major repairs. For example, to approve which contractor will perform the maintenance or repairs or to approve costs above a spending limit.
Check your by-laws to see if there are any rules around major repairs and if there is a spending limit.
Issues that are a combination between minor and major might require separate approvals.
After a big storm, part of the roof of a building has been damaged. The strata committee meets to decide how to handle the issue. They get quotes from various trade companies and decide which one to go with. After the repair is done, the invoice is paid with money from the capital works fund.
Approve the quote
The owners corporation or strata committee will need to approve the preferred quote and supplier.
Get the work done
Once the quote is approved, schedule the work with the tradesperson and get the work done.
When the repairs are done
Once the repairs are done, check that the work has been finished to a high standard and pay the invoice.
If the issue is with common property needs to be repaired, either the owner, landlord or tenant can apply for strata mediation offered by NSW Fair Trading. Mediation is a free service that can help solve disagreements between owners and the owners corporation.
Defects in residential buildings four storeys or higher and built within the last two years can be fixed by using money from a ‘building bond’ paid by the developer to NSW Fair Trading.
Defects in residential buildings built within the last six years may be covered by a statutory warranty period.
Owner corporations with new buildings that have serious defects in common property may be eligible for Project Intervene. Project Intervene will help negotiate an agreement with the developer to resolve these defects. Visit Resolving serious defects in residential apartment buildings for more information.
You can also lodge a complaint with Fair Trading about defects within your strata complex. How to lodge building defect complaints.
Investing in sustainable energy and water infrastructure can provide cost savings and benefits for the environment.
What is sustainability infrastructure?
Sustainability infrastructure is any change to common property that:
- reduces or improves energy or water consumption
- reduces or stops pollution
- reduces the amount of rubbish sent to landfill
- increases the amount of recycling
- reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- encourages sustainable transport (such as electric vehicle charging stations)
How to find out about sustainability upgrades
- Check with your local council.
- Check with your water company.
- Contact your electricity company.
- Check if you qualify for the NSW Government’s Commercial Lighting or Home Energy Efficiency Retrofits.
- Hire a strata sustainability consultant. They can tell you what other strata schemes have done.
How to make sustainability upgrades
If you want to make sustainability upgrades, you will need to make a proposal to others in your scheme.
Your proposal should consider costs (including running and maintenance), how it will be installed, and how many owners will benefit from it.
You can put forward a motion for your proposal at the next strata meeting. Sustainability upgrades are voted on through a ‘sustainability infrastructure resolution’.
The vote will include:
- how to pay for the upgrade
- how to change existing infrastructure or install new infrastructure
- changing the by-laws so residents can use the upgrade.
A majority vote is required for the sustainability infrastructure resolution to pass.
Can you end a strata scheme?
The Registrar General can end a strata scheme when all owners want to sell or redevelop it.
If not all owners are sure or some disagree, the strata scheme can follow a set process that can allow a strata scheme to be sold. This can happen if at least 75% of owners in the scheme agree.
Learn more about collective sale and development on the Office of the Registrar General's website.
Vulnerable groups, for example an aged or disability pension, can use Fair Trading’s free advice advocacy service to help with advice on a proposed sale and renewal plan. To find out more contact:
Learn how disputes between owners, or residents, or complaints against strata managers and other workers can be resolved.
By-laws cover things like pets, parking, noise and smoking, so it is important to understand how they affect you.
Understand how to set budgets and levies, the different funds and insurance, and what to do if something goes wrong.
Find out about strata announcements, recently published resources and more. You can also subscribe to other newsletters of interest.