Privacy Screening – Whether considered a BC Responsibility or Lot Owners

25 Aug Privacy Screening – Whether considered a BC Responsibility or Lot Owners

Privacy Screening – Whether considered a BC Responsibility or Lot Owners

More and more, as Body Corporate Managers, we are being asked by our Bodies Corporate’s whether an aspect of the building or improvement is the responsibility of the Body Corporate to maintain or the Lot Owners.

In a lot of cases this will be determined by establishing whether a scheme is registered as a Standard Format Plan (SFP) or a Building Format Plan (BFP) – this clarifies what the “boundaries” are of the lot and what maintenance responsibilities fall to the Lot Owner & to the Body Corporate.  We have reported on the difference between an SFP & BFP previously and further in this newsletter have attached a Maintenance Fact Sheet to assist with any additional queries owners or committee members may have.

In the Adjudicators Order that we reviewed this month an owner of a strata scheme requested an order that the body corporate maintain a privacy screen that is attached to the boundary wall of an external outdoor area. For clarification, the building is registered as a BFP.

Under Maintenance responsibilities, the adjudicator noted:

“A lot owner must maintain their lot in good condition, except those parts of the lot that are the body corporate’s responsibility. A body corporate must maintain the common property, along with additional responsibilities in a scheme that is registered as a BFP (which this scheme is). Of particular relevance here, a body corporate in a BFP must maintain in good condition:

  1. Railings, parapets and balustrades on (whether precisely, or for all practical purposes) the boundary of a lot and common property, and
  2. Doors windows and associated fittings situated in a boundary wall separating a lot from common property.

Despite these provisions, the body corporate will not be responsible for maintaining fixtures installed by the occupier of a lot if they were installed by the occupier of a lot if they were installed for the occupiers benefit.”

It should also be noted that early on in the application it was reported that the privacy screening was installed by the original developer however the maintenance of the screening has been a point of debate for many years.

The adjudicator, in considering the above maintenance responsibilities of a BFP, ruled that the nature of the screen was not considered a railing, parapet, balustrade, door, window or associated fittings and noted that the determination would revert back to the screens location.

As such the order noted “In a BFP, the lot boundaries are defined on the survey plan by the structural elements of a building including the floors, walls and ceilings. Where a lot is separated from another lot or common property by a floor, wall or ceiling, the boundary is the centre of the floor, wall or ceiling. A wall will constitute a structural element for the purposes of determining a boundary even if it is not full height………However, as outlined above, I do not consider the screen is a door, window, balustrade or railing. Moreover, nothing else is identified and dimensioned on the plan as being used as a boundary structure.”

Based on the plans that were submitted with the application and the photos, the screening was found to be installed to a point on the boundary wall that is within the centre line and does not form Common Property. The order was dismissed and the Lot Owner is responsible for the maintenance of the screen.

The full order can be read – http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/qld/QBCCMCmr/2019/367.html

Further information on Maintenance Responsibilities can also be found on our website. Check out our Fact Sheets – https://www.hbcm.co/resources/fact-sheets/

And by visiting the Commissioners Office Website – https://www.qld.gov.au/law/housing-and-neighbours/body-corporate/maintenance