Trafalgar News

Trafalgar News

Responsibility for Plumbing in Sectional Title Schemes

visual of a flooded room with water filling up the area to indicate the importance of good plumbing within a community scheme or residential home

Leaking stacks, dripping taps, burst pipes, who is responsible for maintaining, repairing and replacing? Is it the body corporate, that is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the common property, based on the approval of the members and in accordance with the maintenance, repair and replacement plan, or is it the responsibility of the owner of a section? 

Pipes, wires, cables and ducts are tricky, and the interpretation and application of section 3(1)(r) of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act are often subjects of disputes between bodies corporate and owners. 

Let’s examine this provision of the Act, and see if we can clarify it in the case of pipes (plumbing). One of the functions of a body corporate (performed by the trustees or any person mandated by them) is to maintain or repair or replace (when maintenance and repair is no longer possible) pipes on the land (including common property, sections and EUA’s) and capable of being used by multiple sections, or the common property, or by one (1) section over the common property. 

As you can see from the above, the body corporate is responsible, in most instances, for the maintenance, repair and replacement of plumbing. In the event of an EUA, the body corporate recovers the costs incurred via an additional contribution, unless the amended rules of the body corporate make the owner directly responsible. The rules can also deal with the issue of pipes, and the responsibility and liability for same, and we often see this in the event of alterations or damage being caused due to misuse, such as blocking pipes. 

In the event of pipes serving multiple sections, these pipes could be located on common property, within one (1) section or both sections, and still be the responsibility of the body corporate. In the event of pipes running over or under the common property, but serving a section, again it will be the responsibility of the body corporate, and of course, where the pipes are on and serve common property, or in a section/s and serves the common property. 

It is in only a few instances when an owner would be responsible, such as in regard to a geyser serving a particular section/s, despite it being located on common property in many instances, but it is always a good idea to firstly, be aware of the layout and use of pipes within the scheme, a plan of same being a requirement to be handed to the body corporate at the first general meeting, and to amend the scheme’s rules to clarify or delegate responsibility. Further, in some instances, a cost may be shared between owners or between an owner and the body corporate. This may be as a result of an agreement, settlement, order, amended rules or simply because it is the most reasonable route to follow.