The apartment toilet problems and the clever property manager!
Look Up Strata
by Bailey Compton
26 September 2017
Leverage came across a story this week and it reminded us how property
managers (managers of individual rented units) almost need to become
private investigators to solve the riddle of who caused the problems,
in this instance, apartment toilet problems. In dealing with issues of
maintenance and repairs, who caused it and therefore who must pay
becomes essential to a defect mystery.
A large city block of apartments (condo tower) suffered some toilet
reflux in the last two weeks. You might ask what toilet reflux is. It
is simple! When somebody flushes a toilet somewhere in the building and
it ends up on the floor of someone else’s apartment. Yuck! This reflux
was not discriminatory. It turned up in 401, 301, 201 and 101.
Obviously, it happened somewhere just above 401.
Notwithstanding the gravity of the health issues involved with such an
accident, who caused the issue becomes a strata football. The developer
referred the property manager to the owners corporation (condo
management), the owners corporation referred the lot owner to the
builder and the remnants of the accident still remain.
The one suffering is the landlord who needs to find another place for
the tenants to stay during the clean up. Worse for the property
manager, they know that even after everything is cleaned up and the
tenants return, if the problem is not fixed it is only a matter of time
until the next brown bomber magically appears.
This property manager had enough of owners corporations, developers and
builders bouncing the landlord’s representative around like the Harlem
Globetrotters. As soon as he heard that the plumber had gone into the
basement, he ran downstairs with his telephone on camera. He filmed the
repairs and was lucky enough to find that the pipe was filled with
broken pipe. Whoops, it wasn’t caused by any lot owner above, it was
caused by broken plumbing.
The photographs our intrepid investigator, aka the property manager,
took provided evidence of the cause and therefore the payee. He rang
the owners corporation and simply stated that ‘the toilet reflux is
yours to fix’. Before the strata manager (condo maanger) could respond,
he said ‘I have filmed the repair and have now captured on film the
offending particles’. That is, the shards in the pipe. He also secured
a short statement from the plumber indicating the cause of the problem,
which he passed on to the owners corporation. Guess what, the owners
corporation is coming to the party.
Property management is increasingly becoming a hard gig. Sometimes it
helps to be a little bit inventive in the ways we prove who is at
fault. Yes, this guy did come from an organisation which could afford
the resource, but notwithstanding, this is very clever.
Bailey Compton, Leverage Group – Solicitors & Academy.
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