Irish Times Property Clinic 27th day of November 2014.
Publishing Date; Thursday the 9th day of October 2014.
Q I live in a very old converted apartment complex, which has an exposed stone external wall. I have had water ingress through the external wall, and the management company undertook works in the form of re-pointing the stone joints and capping. They have now advised that I should replace the “unsuitable cementitious” plaster finish internally with a lime render. They say that this will allow the wall to “breathe” and will further alleviate problems associated with damp. Given that the management company is required to deal with damp, is it reasonable for them to ask that I fund the replacement of the internal plaster finish? I know the MUD’s act places responsibility for the external walls with the management company; however does this extend to the internal finish?
A The Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 (MUD Act 2011) Section (1)(a) indeed notes the external walls as a common area. This Section also continues to identify a relevant part as meaning “in relation to a unit, those parts of the common areas of a multi-unit development necessary for the enjoyment of quiet and peaceful occupation of such unit”.
The owners’ management company’s (OMC) action should not have only been to deal with an aesthetic exercise in replenishing the finishing of an external wall and capping the roof section for direct rainfall but to also make good the relevant part as defined by the MUD Act 2011 Section 1; in this case providing for the cessation of damp transfer from the OMC wall to your unit. This section of the legislation identifies the necessity of a common area relevant to a member’s unit to be in good order so that peaceful occupation can be achieved.
I would recommend that you formally correspond with your OMC and request that they make good the external wall so that you may occupy your property without the disturbance of moisture transfer from perhaps driving rain.
It would have been a logical process for the OMC to appoint a qualified person to survey water ingress and provide appropriate guidance for the members to consider at a general meeting so as to agree the associated costs to remedy the issues.
If your experience of damp transfer is unique within the development it may be difficult for the members to agree the remedial costs if it does not affect the majority of the development.
Either way, there is an onus on the OMC to ensure that you are not experiencing damp transfer through a section of the common area. The common area should be fit for purpose in keeping damp out of your property.
A building surveyor would propose by way of a report, suitable remedial works for the cessation of damp transfer to a unit within the OMC. It is plausible that you may lose a few inches at the external wall end of your property to facilitate any approved remedial works.
Paul Huberman is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) Properties and Facilities Management Professional Group
Author: Paul Huberman of H&H Property Management Consultants Ltd
Publish Date: 27/11/2014