Balcony Repairs and Maintenance: An “Essential” Service

Leaky balconies and cracked tiles happen, regardless of international pandemics. As a tenant you have the right to live in a safe and fully functioning apartment, no matter what is happening in the world around you.

Unfortunately, repairing balconies is one of the critical services that are currently being cancelled or postponed – Not by the government, but by unit and apartment tenants themselves, due to fear of having tradespeople in their home.

This is risky as repairs to balcony leaks will likely cost more the longer you wait, they may even do exactly what residents are trying to avoid – threaten lives. Leaks compromise the structural integrity of buildings and if these repairs are not done quickly the problem is likely to snowball.

Coronavirus has not only turned people off having tradespeople in the home, according to the Strata Community Association (SCA), it has also sparked a home renovation boom. With some residents undertaking unsafe DIY high-rise balcony repair projects that are best performed by a professional.

An estimated two million strata dwellers in New South Wales are being warned against trying to attempt dangerous balcony renovations themselves while self-isolating, as they run the risk of death, injury, or even voiding warranty protection.

When it comes to warranty protection, each strata scheme has its own by-laws that strata owners and their tenants must follow. Each with their own set of responsibilities when it comes to repairing and maintaining the balcony. These responsibilities are allocated as follows:

This said, the lifespan of a balcony can be significantly prolonged if the Owners Corporation and tenant work together to maintain it and its tiles. Whereas, performing DIY repairs when skilled labour is available is a sure-fire way to void warranty protection. Furthermore, any changes you have made, you now bear total responsibility for, including any resulting problems.

Luckily, tradespeople can still operate in strata buildings as they are considered an “essential” service.

SCA (NSW) president Chris Duggan has ensured tradies are adopting a safety-first approach in which “tradespeople, building managers and strata residents work cohesively to significantly minimise the risk of virus transmission,” and provide tenants with some muchneeded peace of mind.

SCA (NSW) has also outlined new safety guidelines.

1. Do not cancel urgent repairs and maintenance work. Especially when this work involves the repair of balcony leaks.

2. Do not attempt balcony repairs and maintenance yourself. Works performed at height require a trained professional. 

3. Be aware of your scheme’s shared amenities. As more and more people are staying home, these facilities will be under increased pressure.

4. Be good to your neighbours during this time. Be considerate and mindful when it comes to noise as people are now working from home.

5. Practice social distancing. If you are expecting a tradesman in your home adhere to the 1.5 metre distancing guidelines. Avoid direct contact and keep disinfectant handy. If someone in your household is unwell, call your tradie a couple of days in advance. You may also request the same information from your tradie.

6. Practice hand hygiene. Tradies will wash and disinfect their hands both before and after the job.

7. Ask for tradie’s policies and procedures. Tradies need to employ strict policies and procedures for their staff to follow during this time. These guidelines should provide detail on how they are implementing health and safety precautions. Tenants can ask to see a copy of the tradie’s policies and procedures to ensure customer peace of mind and satisfaction.

To support the millions of tenants living in strata titled properties in Australia, the strata industry needs to follow these guidelines and continue operating as effectively as possible.

The current pause on professional balcony repairs will have a negative impact when the coronavirus pandemic is well and truly over and the fear subsides, as demand will increase but many businesses that service strata will hot have survived.

However, we are continuing to see a vulnerability for owners around their financial circumstances coming off the back of COVID-19. Therefore, strata schemes need to adapt, to balance compassion and awareness for the devastating economic impact this has had on tenants and assist them financially to maintain the “strata-quo.”

This is not a time to step back, it is a time to step up for our communities and members, and we are doing everything we can to ensure Megasealed continue to run business as normal.

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