Handling Of A Leak From The Apartment Above

Sunday 29/06/2014: My very first guests, after 5.5 months restoring my apartment since the body corporate sewer spill last January, rang to say there was fluid dripping from the light fitting in the centre of the ceiling over the beds. My booking agent & I rushed to help, move furniture, clean up and change bedding. I quickly established that the problem was the bath in the apartment above. The guests above very obligingly emptied the bath and the dripping slowed and eventually stopped.

I left an urgent message on the answering service for the management company of the apartment above. Vincent Sweeney, body corporate councillor and owner of the company that manages the apartment above mine, rang me back and after I explained the situation was obviously a body corporate issue, he said "I'll leave you to organise a plumber and get it sorted out". After several attempts I eventually got through to our strata management company, Alpine Strata, who contacted a plumber. Upon a quick inspection, the plumber said that he couldn't do anything until my guests checked out at 10am on the next morning.

Monday 30/6/2014: The plumber calculated that it was the bath waste pipe leaking from the apartment above mine. He asked if he could cut holes in my ceiling to investigate. I told both the plumber and Jane Pedersen of Alpine Strata that following the experience I had been through over the past 6 months with the sewer back-flow from body corporate pipes last January (for which I have still not been fully compensated) that either Alpine Strata or the body corporate must, in writing, take full responsibility for all repairs, costs and compensation for works done in my apartment, before they started cutting holes in the ceiling. Jane said that (i.e. written indemnity) wasn't going to happen and so the plumber went off to do other work.

Tuesday 1/07/2014: I received a letter from Richard Gallimore on behalf of Squatters Run Association (the body corporate) saying as per the Association constitution I must provide access to my apartment. They recognised that I wanted full indemnity but wouldn't provide it:-
"However, any claim for loss of rent will be a matter for our insurer. Council cannot make any such commitment without express authorisation from our insurer.
The insurer will no doubt refuse any such claim arising from any delay on your part in providing access to the ceiling cavity of Apartment 4.

I suggested to the body corporate council that they contact the body corporate insurer ASAP in order to get the indemnity I had requested.

My booking agent said her primary concerns were for the welfare and comfort of our guests. She agreed that the proposal/demand sent by the body corporate council was unreasonable and that she would write a list of reasonable suggestions.

Late in the evening I received the following from the body corporate Council, via email:
"It is critical that we resolve this issue urgently. It is not for me to speculate, but I would expect that should it be necessary to move guests from Apartment 12, it is possible that the owners of that apartment may seek to pursue a claim against yourself arising from any delay in providing access in breach of your sublease conditions.
This is a point that may interest your insurer as well.

Wednesday 2/07/2014: I rang the owners of the apartment above to explain that I was not trying to stall the repairs but that I didn't agree with the body corporate Council refusing to indemnity me for the costs of having to relocate my guests.

I was shocked to hear that my phone call to the owners of the apartment above, 3 days after the leak, was the first that they had even heard about the problem. They had not received a call from their managing agent, nor from Council nor Alpine Strata and yet here was Council "speculating" that the owners above may be taking action against me.

Thursday 3/7/2014: The pressure continued from the body corporate council. I emailed everyone involved, saying that as per my email on the previous Monday, I would not accept any responsibility for whatever occurred in or around my apartment as a result of any actions by Alpine Strata or the body corporate in regards to this matter, without full indemnity.
That night I received an email from the body corporate Council saying:
"Council does not want to involve the hassle of insurers if this can be avoided.".
And yet just 2 days ago they said "It is critical that we resolve this issue urgently."

By this stage I considered the Council's demands, without indemnity, and with me facing the potential loss of thousands of dollars, to be blatant intimidation & bullying. Indeed, as future grumps will show, this is typical of the long running attitude they have shown towards me.

Friday 4/07/2014: I received an email from the body corporate regarding my request for indemnity for lost rent:
"Loss of rent. Our insurer has advised that such a claim can be considered should that situation eventuate."

With considerable organisation by my booking agent, plans were made to relocate my next guests, at body corporate's expense, in order to allow tradesmen to effect repairs from within my apartment to rectify the body corporate plumbing issue.
I emailed the body corporate to say: "I am pleased to see that a satisfactory solution has finally been agreed upon.".
It took 5 days for the body corporate to agree to compensate me for the costs & losses incurred with repairing the body corporate piping.

Sunday 6/07/2014: My booking agent and I moved and covered the furniture in preparation for the plumbers cutting holes in the ceiling.

After three long days of hard work by plumbers, plasterers & painters, I finally discovered, by accident as no one had bothered to tell me, that the repairs had been completed, allowing me to get back into my apartment on Thursday to move the furniture back into place ready for my cleaners and next guests to arrive on Friday (July 11th).

May be I was wrong to have expected more from the body corporate and strata management in their handling of a leak from a body corporate pipe in the peak winter season? Future grumps will show why I felt I was justified in taking the stand I took.