The floor of my apartment is disintegrating. What can I do?

Property Clinic: The Owners Management Company may be responsible for repair

Properties can be hastily decorated prior to a sale. Flooring can conceal  issues that a  survey wouldn’t detect

Properties can be hastily decorated prior to a sale. Flooring can conceal issues that a survey wouldn’t detect

 

I have a big issue with a concrete floor under laminated flooring. I live in the ground floor apartment of my building, and I have discovered the floor has holes and the cement is disintegrating. It literally has turned into a sandlike substance. I would like to know who is responsible for fixing concrete under laminated flooring on ground floors of apartment buildings? Is it the Owners Management Company (OMC) or the owner of the apartment? I would love to hear back from you with advice.

Paul Huberman writes: The lease agreement binding your Owners Management Company (OMC) and yourself sets out which party holds liability for the repair and maintenance of certain aspects of a multi-unit development. The Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, Section 1 also sets out what are common areas (shared ownership of parts of a development collectively owned by the property owners). The laminate and underlay would be your property, the structure below would be deemed as common areas.

You do not say if you are the original property owner or if you have acquired a secondhand home. It may be that the property is secondhand and the floor in question was previously tiled/stone flooring and a kango was used to strip out the original floor and the replacement works were poorly executed with a new floor finish to conceal the workmanship.

Properties can be hastily decorated prior to a sale. Flooring and painting can conceal a number of issues that a traditional survey would not include as they are not invasive.

If you are the original purchaser and no works have been done by you, your observations would be far more alarming as common area construction materials would be similarly sourced and applied throughout a development. If this is the case it is likely this issue is present in many other areas.

I would propose that you write to the registered office of the OMC and request that they investigate your findings promptly. A suitably-qualified third party would be required to undertake the investigation to provide an informed opinion and report, being either a chartered building surveyor, architect or chartered building engineer. It is likely that other properties would need to be investigated to identify the scope of the issue. Should an investigation and core sample find that the superstructure of the development is substandard there would be health and safety concerns and insurance ramifications among many other knock-on effects.

In the event that the floor is unique with no evidence of similar issues elsewhere you may find yourself liable for the costs of reinstating the floor to an appropriate standard of finish along with the investigation costs.

Paul Huberman is a chartered property and facilities manager and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

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