Who owns the porch light in a Strata Title Unit?
Message from client: Hi Michael, The front porch light at Unit 8 is hanging down from the fixture (slightly). It’s still working but Mrs XX is cautious about putting it on (electrical fire etc).
Can you please arrange for an electrician to come out and look at it please and repair. Thanks
I had discussed this matter with the owner of Unit 8 when leaving the property following the Annual General meeting and advised them that it was their light and requested they arrange repair, only for them to contact the owner working as Presiding Officer in the group and play on their good nature to want to help.
The question received from the Presiding Officer next was in my opinion brilliant:
Question though – as it is part of the building outside, wouldn’t that come under the strata? The light switch doesn’t appear to be faulty, the way its affixed to the building is what is damaged and falling down.?
When considering the response, I presented the following:
The act isn’t terribly helpful when setting the guidelines as s5 just tells us in broad terms what is common property and that the corporation funds can only be used for corporation expenses.
When it comes to pipes, cables, wires or ducts, the ownership is determined by whether they service more than 1 unit (s5(6) of the Strata Titles Act 1988). Examples are things like hot water services or air-conditioners that sit on the corporations property (the wall) but service individual units and are owned by the individual owner.
For exterior lights body corporate managers have traditionally used the “where does it switch on” rationale as the lights on the property that come from the common power account belong to the corporation and the lights on each unit are the property of that unit.
Another example of this logic would be flyscreens; everyone has them and they sit on the corporations window but they don’t form a part of the structure and it is the structure that the corporation is responsible for.