Time to act on air

As odd as it may seem when approaching the end of summer, now is the ideal time to think about air conditioning.

Many unit owners may not think about air conditioning until it starts to get warm again. Not only might this make it difficult to find a technician, installer or a good deal on a product, it also poses some practical challenges in the body corporate context.

In addition to ensuring the right size and type of unit is chosen and taking into account any electrical requirements, a lot owner will generally need to seek approval for the installation. The by-laws applicable to the scheme will also be a consideration.

Those by-laws may specify things such as how and where the air conditioning unit can be placed, so it is important this is addressed prior to any work commencing. It is also important to note that a committee meeting may not be scheduled for some time, or it may be that the decision becomes conditional on other works or modifications, which might also take time.

Therefore it is important to consider planning ahead and submitting motions earlier rather than later.

This consideration also applies to existing air conditioning units, for example, older units where there may be increased maintenance needs requiring attention sooner rather than later.

As a general rule of thumb, the body corporate is responsible for maintaining and insuring common or shared air conditioning. Mobile or fixed air conditioners only servicing a particular lot are not a body corporate responsibly to maintain or insure.

It is perhaps a good idea to speak with or write to the body corporate in the first instance to clarify what insurance arrangements may or may not apply.

As noted earlier, noise may also be an issue. Some air conditioning units, particularly older ones, can be quite noisy particularly when used for extended periods. If any noise from an air conditioning unit starts to effect occupiers of other lots in the scheme then this may trigger action under a noise by-law.

As always, early discussion with owners and bodies corporate is the best starting point for having any issues resolved.

While on the topic of maintenance of and devices in a body corporate, it is also worth noting smoke detector responsibilities. Not all smoke detectors are automatically common property utility infrastructure and body corporate responsibility, as some smoke detectors are battery operated, internal to the lot and service only that one lot.

This arrangement would make the owner of the lot responsible for the regular testing and maintenance of the device.

Different arrangements may apply depending on such factors as the location of wiring and its installation. As is clear in both cases, not every situation with an air conditioner or smoke detector will be identical and depending on the circumstances, a number of considerations might apply.

Accordingly, I would encourage anyone with queries about these matters to contact the Information Service of the Commissioner’s Office [email protected]

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