Leaks in an apartment building can cause property damage, toxic mould and make an apartment unsafe to live in. Leaks don't always result in visible running water. Signs of water damage include blistering and bubbling paint, rotting wood and mould.

It's vital that you act quickly to fix leaks as moisture can invisibly spread within the walls and floors of a building causing permanent damage and feeding hidden mould.

If you live in a strata plan, it will often be the responsibility of the owners corporation to fix leaks. Section 106 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) (the Act) requires an owners corporation to maintain and repair the common property in its building. An apartment owner may also be entitled to be repaid for any damage to the inside of their unit or to household items as a result of the leak. In the case of Seiwa v Owners Strata Plan 35042 [2006] the NSW Supreme Court ordered the owners corporation to pay the apartment owner $150,000 in damages for loss of use of part of its apartment.

To find out who is responsible to fix leaks:

  1. Find out what is causing the leak. Is it from a roof, window, pipe or through a wall?
  2. Find out if the source of the leak is from lot property (part of the apartment) or common property (owned by the owners corporation). To be certain you may need to read the strata plan, but often the space inside the unit, including internal walls, is lot property and the external walls, roof, windows and sliding doors are common property.

If the leak is coming from common property it is likely due to a failure by the owners corporation to maintain and repair that part of the building. If so, it is the owners corporation's responsibility to fix the leak and it may have to repay the apartment owner for any loss the owner has suffered because of the leak.

It's important to act quickly when you have property damage resulting from a leak as section 106(6) of the Act prevents an apartment owner from claiming reimbursement for loss 2 years after the date that they first become aware of that loss.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.