Who is responsible for maintaining exclusive use areas?

It is often assumed that if you have the exclusive use of an area (eg courtyard) you are always responsible for maintaining it (eg mowing, repairing pavers). This is not always the case.

The starting point is s173(2) of the standard regulation module (other modules have a similar provision) which says unless stated otherwise in the bylaws the owner of the lot that is granted the use is responsible for the maintenance and operating costs of that area.

In the case of Body Corporate for Visage CTS 34888 v Wilkinson the bylaw said the owner was responsible for keeping the area clean and tidy and the costs associated with this. It was silent as to who pays for the operating costs (electricity for lighting).

The tribunals found even though the bylaw said the owner had to cover the cost of tidying and didn’t say the owner had to cover operating costs this did not exclude the operation of s173. Therefore the owner was still liable for the operating costs.

The decision seems sensible but the original decision of the tribunal said the Body Corporate was liable with this being overturned on appeal so not as straight forward as you might assume.