Maintenance in a unit title development
Maintenance and repair of the interior of a unit is the responsibility of the unit owner(s). In some instances, especially in developments with detached units, owners might also be responsible for maintenance and repair of the exterior of units and exclusive use areas.
A unit owner must maintain their unit in a way that doesn’t have the potential to cause damage or harm to any common property, building element, infrastructure or other unit.
In addition to necessary repairs and maintenance, a unit owner can make alterations, additions or improvements to their unit, as long as they are within the unit boundary and don’t materially affect the common property or other units and comply with body corporate rules, for example obtaining building consents. If a unit owner wants to do any alterations or additions that will materially affect other units or common property, they must get written consent from affected owners and/or the body corporate.
The unit owner(s) of all the units in the unit plan are members of an entity called the body corporate. Every unit title development has a body corporate.
The body corporate is responsible for maintaining the common property in the development as well as building elements (for example, cladding and the roof) and infrastructure (for example, stormwater or wastewater pipes) that relate to or serve more than one unit.
If the body corporate requires access to a unit to carry out repairs or maintenance to common property, building elements or infrastructure, the unit owner must provide the body corporate access at a reasonable time to carry out that work.
The unit plan for the development shows which parts are units and which parts are common property. Reviewing the unit plan may help owners and the body corporate determine who is responsible for maintaining and repairing particular parts of the development.
Long term maintenance plans
As part of its responsibility for maintaining and repairing the common property under the new Unit Titles Act 2010, the body corporate must establish and maintain a long-term maintenance plan (LTMP) which covers at least the next 10 years.
For existing unit title developments the requirement to have an LTMP is covered by a transition period in the Unit Titles Act 2010, meaning that this requirement will not apply until 15 months after the Act comes into force, which is 1st October 2012. A body corporate can decide to put an LTMP in place by special resolution before the expiry of the transition period.
The purpose of an LTMP is to:
- identify future maintenance requirements and estimate the costs involved
- support the establishment and management of funds put aside for maintenance
- provide ongoing guidance to the body corporate to assist it in making its annual maintenance decisions.
Reviewing the LTMP can help in making unit owners, bodies corporate and prospective buyers aware of what parts of the development will require maintenance, how often maintenance is required and the likely cost to unit owners. The body corporate can review the LTMP as frequently as it wishes but must review it at least once every three years.
What the LTMP must contain
The LTMP must contain specific information set out in regulation 30 of the Unit Title Regulations 2011.
The LTMP must:
- describe the common property, building elements, and infrastructure of the unit title development and any additional items that the body corporate has decided by ordinary resolution to include in the plan
- identify those items that the body corporate may decide by ordinary resolution not to maintain for any period during the lifetime of the plan
- state the period covered by the plan
- state the estimated age and life expectancy of each item covered by the plan
- state the estimated cost of maintenance and replacement of each item covered by the plan
- state whether there is a long-term maintenance fund and if there is a long-term maintenance fund, state the amount determined by the body corporate to be applied to maintain the fund each year
- state who has prepared the plan.
LTMPs may include additional information and will vary between developments. Small developments with little common property will have a simple plan. For example, if the only common property is a driveway, the LTMP will likely only cover the driveway maintenance requirements, such as when it needs to be resealed.
On the other hand, a large or multi-storey development with a significant amount of common property will need a more comprehensive plan. For example, in a high-rise apartment development, the LTMP will likely cover a range of maintenance, such as repainting or replacement of cladding, washing windows or resealing a roof.
Download an example of an LTMP for a small unit title development [RTF 2.06 MB, 3 pages]
What the body corporate uses the LTMP for
The LTMP helps the body corporate make decisions on what maintenance and repair work it needs to carry out each year and how this work is funded. This could be something discussed at each annual general meeting or more regular meetings as may be agreed.
In addition, the LTMP will help the body corporate budget to meet the costs of ongoing maintenance work, especially ‘large ticket’ items that may require more careful cost planning. Contributions from unit owners to fund the LTMP may be levied as the need for work arises, or through regular levies on the unit owners.
How maintenance and repairs are paid for
The body corporate pays for any maintenance or repairs it carries out, including any property management charges, through levies on unit owners.
Most of the time, all owners share the cost of repairing and maintaining common property. However:
- if the work was carried out because a unit owner or their tenant acted negligently, or did something to cause damage, the body corporate can require that unit owner pay
- if the work benefits some unit owners over others, the body corporate can require those unit owners who benefit from the work to pay
- if the work is carried out on building elements or infrastructure that form part of a principal unit, the body corporate can require that unit owner to pay.
Long term maintenance fund
A body corporate must establish and maintain a long term maintenance fund unless it decides not to by special resolution. For existing unit title developments, this requirement will not apply during the transition period.
Money in the fund may only be applied towards spending relating to specific work identified in the LTMP.
The body corporate has the power to spend money held in the fund, unless that expenditure is more than 10% over the amount originally budgeted for a specific maintenance item. In that case, the body corporate has to pass a special resolution to approve the expenditure where costs exceed 10% of the budget.
Where to find more information
For unit titles advice and information call 0800 Unit Titles (0800 864 884), see the Unit title developments section of this website, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org