Rain or Shine: Strata's Responsibility for Water Damage Head-On

strata responsibility for water damage

Who is responsible for water damage in a strata complex?

In Australia, the responsibility for water damage in a strata complex is typically outlined in the legislation and the strata bylaws governing the specific strata scheme. For example, the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (New South Wales) provides guidelines on the division of responsibilities between the owners’ corporation (equivalent to the strata corporation in other jurisdictions) and individual lot owners.

The strata corporation (owners’ association) usually maintains and repairs common property, including building exteriors, roofs, and plumbing systems. 

Suppose water damage occurs due to a failure in common property elements, such as a leaking roof or a burst pipe in a shared plumbing system. In that case, the strata corporation is often responsible for addressing and resolving the issue.

On the other hand, if the water damage occurs in an individual strata lot and results from issues within that specific unit, such as a burst pipe or a malfunctioning appliance, the owner of that strata lot is typically responsible for the damages and repairs within their property boundaries.

It’s important to consult the strata bylaws and regulations specific to the strata complex in question and local laws governing strata properties to determine the exact responsibilities in the event of water damage.

What about insurance?

Strata corporations usually carry insurance coverage for common property and may also have liability coverage. However, individual unit owners are encouraged to obtain their insurance policies to cover personal belongings, improvements made to the unit, and any additional liability coverage.

In the event of water damage, the responsibility for insurance claims may depend on the cause and location of the damage. Strata insurance typically covers common property, while individual owners’ insurance covers personal property and improvements within their units.

What common areas are covered by strata responsibility in case of water damage?

In a strata complex, common areas covered by strata responsibility in the case of water damage typically include:

  • Building Structure. The exterior of the building, including the walls, roof, windows, and foundations, falls under common property. If water damage affects these elements, it is generally the strata corporation’s responsibility.
  • Common Hallways and Stairwells. Internal areas like hallways, stairwells, and other shared spaces within the building are commonly considered part of the common property. Water damage in these areas is typically the responsibility of the strata corporation.
  • Shared Plumbing and Piping Systems. Pipes that serve multiple units or the entire building and common drainage systems are usually part of the common property. Any water damage arising from issues with these shared plumbing systems is generally the responsibility of the strata corporation.
  • Exterior Cladding and Finishes. Materials used on the exterior of the building, such as cladding and finishes, are typically part of the common property. Water damage affecting these components is usually the responsibility of the strata corporation.
  • Common Roofing. The building’s roof is commonly considered part of the common property. If there is water damage to the roof or if leaks occur, the strata corporation is generally responsible for addressing and repairing the issue.
  • Gutters and Downpipes. Shared guttering and downpipes that direct rainwater away from the building are often part of the common property. Responsibility for maintenance and repairs of these components typically lies with the strata corporation.

It’s important to note that the specific allocation of responsibilities can vary based on the strata bylaws, the strata management statement, and the legislation governing strata properties in the relevant jurisdiction. Owners and residents should refer to these documents to understand the exact scope of strata responsibility for common areas in case of water damage.

Plumbing Maintenance and Strata

Property maintenance is important in order to identify areas of risk that may not be visible to the naked eye. Some damages may not be immediately noticeable and may remain unnoticed until visible evidence arises, such as leakages, dampness and mould.

Identifying potential damages early is crucial to prevent the spread of damage to other strata property lots or the common property. It is worth noting that most insurance companies will not cover damages resulting from poor maintenance, wear and tear, or a problem that has been neglected and left to deteriorate over time.

Plumbing systems should be checked regularly for leaks, corrosion, and other potential problems. Landscaping and drainage also play a crucial role in preventing water damage. Proper grading and a well-maintained drainage system must direct water away from the building. Also, routine inspections and repairs of the roof, gutters and downpipes, and sealing and caulking around windows, doors, and other exterior openings. Exterior painting also serves as a barrier against water damage and enhances the appearance of the building.

Conducting building envelope inspections to identify any signs of water damage or deterioration in walls and siding is essential. This allows for timely intervention and prevents further damage to the building’s structure. Maintenance of common area water fixtures, such as fountains or irrigation systems, is also necessary to prevent leaks and water damage.

Regular maintenance of common area flooring, especially in areas exposed to the outdoors, is crucial to prevent water penetration and damage.

If you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing during winter, your water pipes could freeze and burst, causing widespread damage. Before the cold weather sets in, it is important to identify any piping or equipment that may be susceptible to freezing. Lot owners can prepare for the cold weather by draining any plumbing equipment and condensation units and protecting them with an anti-freeze product.

It is recommended to inspect your plumbing system on a semi-regular basis during the winter season to identify any plumbing issues. Turn on your taps and check if there is a steady flow of water. If the water flows slowly or is non-existent, your pipes may be frozen. In case of a frozen pipe within your lot or on common property, contact your strata manager immediately.

To prevent extensive property damage caused by sewer blockages, it is the owner’s corporation’s responsibility to regularly inspect the strata building’s sewer drains. This proactive approach allows for the early detection of blockages, enabling prompt treatment.

A recommendation from a professional plumber is to have an emergency response plan in place. This means having a set of procedures that can be implemented quickly, as well as contact information for emergency repair services. It’s equally important to communicate clearly with residents about reporting any water-related issues as soon as possible. This helps to nip any potential problems in the bud and prevents water damage from getting out of hand. 

Scenario 1: Strata Pays for Water Damage

In Scenario 1, a severe storm causes significant roof damage to the strata complex. The roofing material is compromised, leading to water leaks into multiple units and common areas. As a result, water damage is widespread throughout the building.

In this scenario, the strata corporation is responsible for paying for the water damage. The roof is considered common property, and the maintenance and repair of common property fall under the strata corporation’s jurisdiction. The owners’ corporation uses its funds, typically collected through strata fees paid by all lot owners, to cover the costs of repairing the damaged roof, addressing water leaks, and restoring affected areas within the building.

Scenario 2: Lot Owner Pays for Water Damage

In Scenario 2, a resident in one of the strata complex’s units experiences a sudden burst pipe within their kitchen. The burst pipe causes water to flood the unit, damaging walls, flooring, and personal belongings. The water damage is limited to the boundaries of this particular lot.

In this case, the lot owner is responsible for paying for the water damage. The plumbing within individual units is usually considered the responsibility of the lot owner. The strata corporation is not obligated to cover the costs of repairing the damage that occurs within the confines of an individual strata lot. The affected lot owner would typically need to rely on their own insurance coverage to address the repairs and restoration necessary within their unit.

It’s important to note that the specific division of responsibilities may vary based on the strata bylaws and local strata legislation. Additionally, insurance coverage, both strata insurance and individual unit owner insurance, plays a significant role in determining who bears the financial responsibility for water damage in different scenarios. Lot owners are encouraged to understand their insurance coverage and obligations outlined in the strata bylaws to ensure proper handling of such situations.


As a plumbing company specialising in residential plumbing and strata management, we recognise the importance of proactive measures to prevent water damage. For strata corporations, regular inspections of common plumbing systems, including pipes and drainage, can help identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

For individual lot owners, maintaining the plumbing infrastructure within your unit is essential. Timely repairs and preventive maintenance can safeguard your property from unexpected water damage events, such as burst pipes or leaks.

Take a proactive approach to water damage prevention. Contact Ironclad Plumbing today to discuss how our comprehensive plumbing services can benefit your strata complex or individual property. Don’t wait until a water-related emergency occurs – let us partner with you to ensure the plumbing systems are in optimal condition, protecting your investment and maintaining the integrity of your property.

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