Firstly, the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA) classifies renovations into three categories;
- Cosmetic work;
- Minor renovations; and
- Major renovations.
An owner MUST receive permission from the owners corporation before doing any minor or major renovations.
So, if an owner has decided to undergo work that falls in the minor or major renovations categories that require approval and this work has caused damage, who is responsible and what can you do?
Most would be aware that the owners corporation has a duty to maintain and repair common property. However, if damage has been caused by work undertaken by an owner who didn’t receive consent from the owner’s corporation, it is the owner’s own responsibility. Courts have held that when considering maintenance and reparation to be the owners corporation’s responsibility, it must be in relation to the ORIGINAL common property, not in relation to alterations or additions that have been made by an owner without permission. This was concluded in The Owners Strata Plan 50276 v Thoo  NSWCA 270 and the case of Krimbogiannis.
If an owner wants to keep the unauthorised alterations, a by-law needs to be made to permit this. This new by-law should impose on the owner the obligation to maintain and repair the works. If the owners corporation does not want to work to remain, an order by NCAT should be made to require the owner to remove the work, or for the owner to allow the owners corporation to remove the work. Section 132 of the SSMA allows for NCAT to make an order that the owner that performed the work takes steps to repair the damage, or an order that the owner to pay the owners corporation the cost of repairs of the damage.