Who must maintain the window frames of my property?
Section 5(4) of the Act provides that the common boundary between any section and another section or common property shall be the median line of the dividing floor, wall or ceiling, as the case may be.
If the frames are flush with the exterior surface of the wall, they are likely to be entirely common property.
If they are flush with the interior surface of such walls, they are likely to form part of the sections.
The third possibility is that the width of each frame extends on both sides of the median line or mid-point of the exterior wall. In this case the frames will be partially common property (the exterior portion of the frame) and the balance of the frame will form part of a section.
If the window frame forms part of a section, the unit owner bares the responsibility of maintaining the window frames. In terms of section 44(1)(c) of the Act each owner is obliged to repair and maintain his section in a state of good repair. Thus the body corporate has no primary responsibility in regard to maintenance of the window frames where they form part of sections.
Prescribed Management Rule 68(1)(iv) provides that an owner shall not do anything to his section or exclusive use area that is likely to prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building. Accordingly any owner who wishes to replace a window frame which forms part of this section and which is visible from the exterior of the building should first obtain the consent of the trustees.
If the window frames are entirely or partially common property. We can deal with these two possible cases together because where a part of the frame is common property it must inevitably be that part which is exposed to the elements.
If the window frames are entirely or partially common property the body corporate is responsible for their maintenance. Section 37(1)(j) of the Act provide that the body corporate is obliged properly to maintain the common property and to keep it in a state of good and serviceable repair. In these circumstances the body corporate clearly cannot require individual owners to pay the cost of replacement of the window frames.
In practice, it is most common found that in maintaining or replacing window frames, the Body Corporate and section owners usually share the costs for maintenance or replacement.