Body Corporate issues - advice needed

I had a bit of a surprise email this morning to the tune of $3,000.

Short story
We bought our unit and the rear yard had just been landscaped by the previous owner. Our unit is higher than our neighbour but we still have adjoining walls. Fast forward a few years and a heavy downpour resulted in our neighbours bedroom to flood which is due to draining issues.

I just got this email from our body corporate:

[i]"The contractor advises me the that he excavated down to slab level against wall to expose problem area.
After some investigation it appears that the falls in the your yard are incorrect causing rainwater to flood in the corner against the Unit 6 and has seeped through into the master bedroom.
He strongly advise that at a minimum a concrete path be installed along the brick wall with some sort of sump or strip drain in front of it. He suggest a concrete pad approximately 3mx3m be installed with a sump in the centre or off centre towards the internal corner of both walls still allowing correct fall in all directions to the sump.

Both the Building and contents insurer will not rectify Unit 6 damage until they have proof and assurances that the cause of the damage is rectified in Unit 5. You would appreciate the owner of Unit 6 is becoming quite anxious and would like her Unit made good ASAP.

The contractor has provided a quote for repair.

Please note as the issue lies within your Unit boundary it remains your responsibility to make good repair.

Accordingly I would appreciate if you can advise if you want to proceed with the quote or make alternate arrangements and the timing of repairs."[/i]

A bit of history as well. We had a tree that we needed to cut down to install a new colour bond fence. We contacted body corporate to ask them to cut it down for us, they said it wasn’t on their land and to contact the council. The council came out and said it wasn’t on their land and to contact body corporate. Eventually we had to pay $500 to cut the tree down as no one was taking responsibility and our fence was falling down.

We later find out that body corporate paid to have two trees cut down outside of another tenants unit that was clearly on government land.

The lady next door is a pain in the ass as well, she is coming over every day to see when we are going to fix our drainage issue so she can get her carpet back in her house.

Any advice would be rad.

Hmmm. If the drainage issue was caused by the previous owner’s landscaping efforts you could be shit outta luck*. If the drainage etc is exactly the same before the landscaping (ie unmodified from the original specs) then it’s their problem.

Even if it is the problem of the body corporate it sounds like they’ve decided that it’s not. Some body corporates will do whatever it takes to get out of paying a bill…

*I’m basing this on a work colleague’s experience: someone in his unit block tried to claim repair work on a bathroom that had been extensively modified. The modifications/refurbishment meant that it was the unit owner’s problem, not the body corporate.

Yeah I might have to have a look at the plans etc. I doubt he changed the actual structure of the drainage - just the surface (loose pebbles). I would have thought that if there were any issues, the building report should have outlined them.

Keep in mind that the strata company or body corporate or whatever will do their utmost to not have to pay a cent. At the base of it someone makes a bigger profit if you pay for stuff that they should be doing…

On re-reading their email, it sounds like it’s more than just a landscaping issue. Sounds like the design was fucked from the get-go, especially if they’re talking about putting in a sump and all that malarky. I’d be handballing it back to them and asking why the fuck it’s your responsibility.

Stick it to them.

Body Corporate is the worst. If your body corporate fees are going to building insurance (which 99% of them do!) and old mates house is flooding because of it, I would be asking why it isn’t covered. Check the contract you signed to see what it go towards. You should also get a regular body corporate report as an owner to know how the money is being spent…

2nd opinion from another contractor? might cost you though

I went through a very similar Waterproofing issue last yeah that ended up costing us $38,000. If next door is lower than your Courtyard and water is seeping through a bessablack wall I would suggest the wall has not been waterproofed properly or depending on age the waterproofing has deteriorated. If that Bessablock wall is the border bettew the 2 properties than it is common property and in fact is the BodyCorp issue.

We learnt the hard way and have now sold our unit we had the issue with and 2 other units we owned so we never have to deal with Bodycorps again…

Dayne might weigh in further

On building reports - my experience is that these things can be quite uninformative and flimsy. We bought our house which had a glowing building report only to find we had a major roof leak at the first big downpour.

Yes - and maybe using your building report to make your case stronger - you built the house in confidence cos the report was good, no mention of a drainage pbm of any sort.

We do share the same brick wall, a tradie mentioned to my wife that because of the age of the building that the waterproofing layer or coating doesn’t exist.

Logic would suggest that it’s the body corporate’s problem then. They’re supposed to get regular inspections done and work done to rectify any issues. Sounds like this falls under their shitty maintenance protocols.

Buy a house next to Stromolo.

That doesn’t sound right.

Funny you should say that. We are looking into it now - just means building, also means spending a LOT of money. Land there isn’t cheap (380k)

Try these people: Owners’ Corporation Network of the ACT

If you do go ahead with the repair, see what assurance you can get from the BC and the contractor that the changes will entirely prevent any similar problems in the future, and that any issues that arise from their advice are fixed at their cost.

But I think the OCN-ACT will provide the best advice / strategy.


If that length of time has passed since you bought it, and its been through several downpours prior to this, then something may have gone awry in the system (blockage, diversion down-stream). The timeline will be important. This would warrant investigation prior to any finger pointing, and would be my initial suggestion. There may be something come of this if its a tree root blockage, which would shunt blame from you. Second-opinion inspection of next door would be high on my list as well. The damage may have been present for some time, but she’s thinking of selling and suddenly “this needs repair”.

Also, for everyone: Links | Owners Corporation Network

Big move!! Haven’t you lived in the same suburb your whole life?!

There has been an issue before. At the time though blame was laid on my as my gutters were full of leaves, we also got the drains checked for blockages etc and all were given the thumbs up as being clear.

The day of the big rain which caused the flooding issue, I cleared the gutters so I know that wasn’t to blame this time.

And yup Gypsy! Lived in the same suburb my who life which is pretty sad especially since I have moved house 6 times.

Sounds like it’s a building fault as opposed to an externalities fault.

As an aside, our body corporate has started clearing leaves etc from roofs and gutters.

It might be a juicy “design fault”, i.e. designed to function under a 1 in 20 year rain event, not 1 in 100. If that’s the case, they won’t want to go chasing a business that may no longer exist. BUT, that may depend on the version of the BCA & AS in force, as well as Council DCP, LEP and standards, at the time of design and building. It can’t be measured against current codes and found wanting, these things aren’t automatically retrospective.

All our BC does is write bitchy letters to the tenants/owners telling them to stop overfilling the bins and to stop the kids playing outside.