As we move towards high density living, defects in high rise buildings are becoming more prevalent. Leaky balconies and water flowing from common or private property, has led to a notable rise in litigation relating to water damage in high rise buildings, including claims for mould and deterioration caused by water.
If you are a building owner, the appearance of water in your building should not be ignored.
Water damage may mean that your building is deemed not fit for occupation as over exposure to mould can be hazardous leading to serious medical and health conditions including significant respiratory issues. Mould can develop quickly and can not be ignored.
What causes mould?
Building practices that potentially increase dampness and/or mould levels include:
- Exposing building materials to moisture and damp during construction (including the frame being exposed to the weather for long periods of time)
- Inadequate ventilation (such as buildings that run air‑conditioners at all times)
- Practices that enable a build-up of condensation (such as the use of foil to wrap buildings)
- Inadequate and/or incorrectly installed waterproofing
If there are signs of water or mould damage in your property, you may have the right to a claim for defects against:
- Your builder (breach of ‘warranties’ in the Domestic Building Contracts Act, 1995)
- The Owners Corporation (breach of the Owners Corporation Act, 2006, if water is coming in through common property)
- Your neighbour (if their actions have led to an unreasonable water flow under the Water Act, 1989)
It is important to act quickly if you have any signs of water damage, mould or other building defects and/or deficiencies.
As an owner, you will need a Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) certificate before you can issue in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
In a recent case in VCAT (October 2019) an Owners Corporation was shut out of its rights against a builder because it didn’t have a DBDRV certificate, and therefore failed to issue in VCAT before the 10 year limitation period.
Claims under the Owner Corporations Act/Water Act must be made within 6 years – usually from the date you first identify the issue. Further, VCAT may reduce your claim if they find the delay has contributed to the loss.
Our team at Oldham Construction Lawyers has extensive experience in acting on behalf of Owners Corporations, owners of apartments and builders to recover damages from building defects.
If you would like more information regarding this specialist area of law, please contact Daniel Oldham via email or by calling (03) 9640 0002.