Our walls are disintegrating. Is the management company obliged to fix it?

Your property questions answered

‘The walls in the common areas have fallen into disrepair, are unsightly and have started to disintegrate’

‘The walls in the common areas have fallen into disrepair, are unsightly and have started to disintegrate’

 

I live on a 12-year-old estate which is managed by a property management company. The walls in the common areas have fallen into disrepair, are unsightly and have started to disintegrate. I attach a photo for your information.

I have been in touch with the management company on numerous occasions but they maintain that their sink fund will not cover repair of these walls. Is a management company not obliged to fix a very obvious issue like this? Your advice would be appreciated.

I agree that the walls are unsightly and that the render course has fallen away from the wall. It is good to see that the debris has been tidied.

Sinking funds are built up over time by an Owners’ Management Company (OMC) and under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, an OMC must agree a Sinking Fund Scheme at a general meeting of owners. This statutory requirement is designed to ensure that the members of an OMC discuss and agree a sinking fund strategy.

The purpose of a sinking fund is to build up a fund to pay for anticipated costs associated with the renewal, replacement and significant repair of management company property and typically include such items as lift replacement /refurbishment, road resurfacing, roof and building fabric renewals, fire safety upgrades, landscaping upgrades, replacement of carpets in internal common areas and internal and external decoration of common areas, to mention a few.

To ascertain the required sinking fund level, you have to review each component part of a development and anticipate its replacement or renewal cost at the end of its useful life taking into account inflation and any anticipated changes in technology and regulations.

In many managed estates sinking funds are built up on an ad-hoc basis and are often less than they should be and certain items are not allowed for, in other OMC’s the members make a decision at a general meeting not to contribute substantially to a sinking fund and adopt a “wait and see” attitude that would result in a levy being raised should a need for funds arise.

In the event that your OMC does not have funds to pay for the wall repairs, the matter should be raised at a general meeting of owners (either at the regular Annual General Meeting or an Extraordinary General Meeting) to ascertain if the owners are willing to pay a levy for the wall repairs.

Prior to this, your OMC should establish if the damage to the wall is aesthetic or whether there is any risk to its structural integrity and ultimately residents and public. I would recommend that a chartered building surveyor be engaged to determine the cause of the damage, recommend required remedial works and prepare a specification of works for pricing by competent contractors.

Paul Mooney is a Chartered Property Manager and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie