At this time of year (with wind and rain), roof gutters are put to the test. Gutter maintenance and gutter cleaning are necessary to keep this crucial part of the building in good condition.
Generally gutter maintenance and cleaning should be carried out once per year, or:
- Less often if there are no trees in the area
- More often if there is tree coverage or if the building has previously had leaking gutters
The ownership and maintenance responsibility for gutters (like many things in strata) can be complicated, and will depend on a number of variables.
Risk if gutters are not maintained
If gutters fail, usually because they are blocked by leaves and debris, rainwater can flow into the ceiling cavity of the building. This is a very common cause of water damage to the interior ceilings of lots, and as a result can have a significant impact on insurance premiums. The good news is that this damage is easily preventable by having a regular program of gutter maintenance and cleaning.
Gutters in building format plan
In apartment buildings, and most* townhouse developments – the roof and gutters are owned by the body corporate. The responsibility for maintenance of body corporate property rests with the committee, and the committee will determine how often gutters are inspected and cleared.
Whilst the body corporate has an obligation to maintain the building in good condition, the committee relies on owners and residents to bring issues to the committee’s attention. If you spot a gutter which is overflowing with leaves – you should report this to your building manager or committee.
*some townhouse developments may be a standard format plan – visit our FAQ for more information.
Gutters in standard format plan
This type of plan may apply to townhouses, duplexes and free-standing homes in strata developments. Under this format plan, the responsibilities of the body corporate are reduced, and owners are responsible for more of the building.
To understand the rules for gutters in a standard format plan, there are a series of tests.
Is the gutter shared?
If the gutter in a standard format plan is not shared (it only services one lot), then the gutter and its associated fittings, downpipes etc will be the responsibility of the individual lot owner to maintain and pay for.
If the gutter is shared (for example if it runs across the front of 2x duplex lots and collects water from both roofs), then that shared infrastructure is the responsibility of the body corporate.
Different pieces of gutter may have different rules
Following our example above, if a duplex has a roof with multiple angles, it is possible for some guttering to be shared (and a body corporate cost), and some guttering on the same roof to be only benefitting one lot (making it a lot owner cost).
For this reason it is important to be specific and clear about what area needs repair, and to include a diagram. A screenshot on Google maps is perfect.
The downpipe that connects to the gutter and brings water down into the below-ground storm water system is related to the gutter, and the responsibility for that downpipe matches the gutter which it is servicing.
There are products available which allow rainwater to enter the gutter system, but block the leaves. These are generally known as gutter guard, and there is a range of quality and price available.
The cost and decision about whether to install gutter guard (and then the maintenance cost) follows the rules about the roof to which the gutter guard is attached.
In a building format plan – the body corporate and committee make decisions about whether or not to install gutter guard.
In a standard format plan – it is up to the owners of the lot to decide whether the installation is necessary, and to pay all costs. Keep in mind however that installing gutter guard may change the external appearance of the lot, and an application for approval from the committee will generally be required. Owners wishing to make exterior changes can apply for approval online using our website form: Lot improvement application.
In a building format plan – the body corporate owns and maintains the building’s roof.
In a standard format plan – unlike guttering, the roof of a duplex or triplex townhouse is not a body corporate expense, even if it is shared.
Depending on the architectural design, one large roof may cover multiple standard format plan lots. If that is the case, the lot owners are responsible for the part of the roof directly above their own lot.