A body corporate was recently ordered to pay a large amount of damages to a commercial lot owner which had endured regular water leaks over many years from a podium above the shop.
The court was not at all sympathetic to the fact that the body corporate had taken small steps from time-to-time to stop the leaks, nor that the claim for damages was out of all proportion to the physical damage caused.
The court took the attitude that the body corporate should reap all the consequences from its decision to take a very cheap option which may or may not have worked, instead of the complete rectification works recommended by its engineer.
Sadly for the owners:
- the committee failed to ask them if they wanted the problem fixed or to take a cheap option that may not work;
- the leaks stopped when the engineer’s original recommended solution was implemented five years later; and
- the total costs of fixing the leaks, when combined with the damages and costs, would have been several times the cost of fixing the problem in the first place.
The only saving grace for the owners was that the problem didn’t get worse over time, as can happen with some defects like concrete cancer and rusting.
So the message is – minimise your risk of a major damages claim by fixing the problem when it first arises.