Strata Property: Who Is Responsible for Unblocking Sewer?

I live in the last of a line of town houses on a strata property (i.e. there is an owners corporation) in Victoria. The sewer that services all the town houses passes through my back courtyard and then into the main public sewer. There is an inspection opening (IO) and overflow relief gully (ORG) for the common sewer in my courtyard.

I was away for a few weeks and when I returned, I discovered that the common sewer was overflowing through the ORG into my courtyard due to an object becoming lodged in the common sewer pipe. This was not happening when I left to go away (I regularly pass through the courtyard, so I would have noticed). I'm unsure where the object came from, but it's unlikely to have been from my sewer, given that I've been away.

Who is legally responsible for paying the plumber's fees for unblocking the sewer – me or the owners corporation? Any advice would be really appreciated.


  • +4 votes

    I would say it's the OC that pays. In fact they should arrange for the work to be done.

  • +3 votes

    Yep, as @woodg states, should be the owners' corporation; that's the kind of stuff the sinking fund is for, assuming they can't pull the expense out of the strata insurance.

  • +2 votes

    OC would pay
    This is of course provided that the owners have an emergency fund contingency in the OC fees each year.
    I know at one of my properties (that i have since sold) the OC had a 10% contingency but at anannual meeting the owners voted it down and the contingency was removed from the yearly fees.
    I sold out the property and around 8 months later i was talking to one of the other owners and they had a massive issue with plumbing, Owners had to fork over around $2K each to get it fixed cause the contingency had been voted out some years prior,

    This is why if you are an owner in an OC you should go to the meetings and make sure a rainy day fund is being funded no matter what

  • +2 votes

    Generally the OC will have to pay.

    Sometimes if the blockage is in your back courtyard and it is a torrens title, the owners corp might decide that you the owner have to pay.

  • +3 votes

    Sounds like a crap situation.

    • +3 votes

      More money down the drain

  • +1 vote


    This is NSW, but I suspect it's the same:

  • +2 votes

    Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm really grateful for it. One of the other owners is saying that the owners corporation shouldn't pay because of the benefit principle (Section 49 of Victorian Owners Corp Act). They are saying that I'm the only one who benefits from the common sewer being unblocked because it was overflowing into my courtyard, not anyone else's. I would have thought that everyone benefits from the common sewer being unblocked, regardless of where the blockage occurs.

    • +6 votes

      Yeah, that makes no sense in this scenario.

    • +5 votes

      Haha tell that person to go take a hike.
      It's a common sewer that's strata's property, this would come under the strata's management, if it ceases to function or cause damage the bill goes to the strata. You can't live in a strata and distance yourself from problems that would have an impact on everyone.

      If the shoe was on the other foot and it was their house i can almost guarantee they'd be chasing the strata up

    • +1 vote

      Check the documents - plan of subdivision for median face and boundaries.
      General services and utilities underground would be under common property which Owners Corporation is responsible for. The sewer line services the entire community and not just your lot.
      Your OC Manager would be able to advise if not sleeping on the job.


      If it's a COMMON SEWER then it should be the OC who has to pay for it!

  • +5 votes

    Block the sewer off so it doesn't flood your yard. See who benefits then.

  • +2 votes

    Owners Corp.

    Our owners corp pays even when it's obvious which townhouse has blocked the system. We do have a caveat that if the same property is continually causing issues (more than twice in a year or outright stupidity like flushing a nappy down the dunny) and there is no failure of the conduit they will be hit with a bill.