It is no surprise that inter-floor leakage is a big nuisance and concern to all parties living in a strata development, as it does not only involve an individual strata parcel owner and it usually takes a long period of time for the repair to be completed. It has been one of the reasons people are hesitant to buy a strata parcel when compared to landed property.
However, strata parcel owners may now have a recourse in the form of Regulation 55 to 64 of the Strata Management (Maintenance and Management) Regulations 2015 (“SMR”), which had been introduced to address this issue. The provisions in SMR lay out the specific obligations, procedures and timelines for the relevant parties when an inter-floor leakage claim arises.
According to the SMR, an inter-floor leakage occurs when there is evidence of dampness, moisture or water penetration on the ceiling or on any furnishing material, including plaster, panel or gypsum board attached, glued, laid or applied to the ceiling that forms part of the interior of a parcel, common property or limited common property, as the case may be.
What to do about the inter-floor leakage in strata parcel?
Firstly, a parcel owner must give notice of the leakage to the developer, joint management body, management corporation or subsidiary management corporation (“Management”), as the case maybe.
What to expect after serving notice?
The Management has a duty to inspect the affected parcel, any other parcels and common property to identify the cause and the party responsible for the leakage within 7 days from the date of receipt of the notice.
When the Management is determining the cause and the party who is responsible for the inter-floor leakage, the following matters will be considered:
- (a) the defect in the affected parcel is presumed to be within the parcel above the affected parcel or common property, unless proven otherwise (section 142 of the Strata Management Act 2013);
- (b) any defect in the water meter, water pipe, drainage pipe, sewerage pipe, gas meter, gas pipe and duct that serves more than one parcel is a defect of the common property or limited common property;
- (c) any defect in the water meter, water pipe, drainage pipe, sewerage pipe, gas meter, gas pipe and duct that serves only one parcel is a defect of that parcel even though the water meter, water pipe etc may be situated or embedded in common or limited common property or void space above the ceiling or wall or floor, as the case may be.
In terms of who is the responsible party, this will depend on the source of leakage and whether the leakage occurred within the defect liability period, or after as shown in the table below:-
What to expect after the inspection?
Once the Management has completed the inspection, they must issue a certificate of inspection in Form 28 stating the cause of the inter-floor leakage, and the party responsible to rectify it, within 5 days from date of inspection.
What if a parcel owner does not agree with the findings of the inspection?
He/she may refer to the Commissioner of Building (COB) who shall ascertain the cause of the leakage and the party responsible and the decision of the COB shall be complied with by all parties concerned.
What if parcel owners do not allow access to the person or body carrying out inspection or rectification works?
It is a criminal offence for parcel owner to refuse access to the person or body carrying out the inspection and rectification work after the 7 days written notice is given. In cases of “emergencies”, where the likelihood of flood or danger to life or property resulting from the leakage is materially increased, the requirement to serve 7 days written notice for access is waived.
What if no action taken after notice is given?
As a last resort, the parcel owner may commence legal proceedings in court or refer the matter to Strata Management Tribunals (“Tribunals”).
In conclusion, SMR had addressed the issue of inter-floor leakage in a strata housing development by setting out a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) in handling inter-floor leakage claim swiftly. It is important to note that parcel owners should exhaust the remedies provided in SMR before seeking assistance from the court or Tribunals (Badan Pengurusan Bersama Mahkota Parade v Pesuruhjaya Bangunan Majlis Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah  1 LNS 1080) to avoid disappointment.
This article is intended to be informative and not intended to be nor should be relied upon as a substitute for legal or any other professional advice.
About the Author
Teoh Zi Han
Halim Hong & Quek