The lift in my apartment block has been broken for two months

June 2013

Question

I live in an apartment block and the lift has been out of order for about two months. When I rang the management company they said that the lift requires a specialist part and that they are waiting for the service charges to come in to pay for it as they don’t have the funds and the sinking fund is empty. Surely they have an obligation to fix this immediately?

Answer

Lifts are expensive and complex machines that need regular maintenance and periodic reinvestment to ensure reliability and safety. Lift parts are often imported, with special orders required for some parts and this can take time.

The unavailability of funds can be caused by a number of issues: poor or unrealistic budgeting; non-payment of service charges by apartment owners; unforeseen expenditure of an urgent nature; and external factors such as rising insurance or energy costs.

The owner’s management company would be contractually obliged under the title lease to maintain the building which would include the maintenance of lifts, but the counter obligation is on all owners to pay service charges.

The fact that the owner’s management company is unwilling to order a part that it cannot pay for, is prudent practice as no company should engage a contractor to carry out work that it knows it cannot pay within the credit terms allowed.

It is concerning that matters have reached this point and that all owners are not aware of the dire financial position that the management company is in and you would hope that other services continue and that arrangements have been made with the service providers.

Communication is key in these instances and you should contact your management company seeking further information regarding the current financial circumstances and suggest that they convene an extraordinary general meeting of owners to discuss options and increase awareness of this issue.

Paul Mooney is a member of the property and facilities management professional group of the MediKids.