June 18, 2020 at 12:12 pm #231377NathMember
Hi Amanda and Learned members,
I have a question regarding grout in the bathroom floor tiles and who is responsible to the repair and maintenance of same.
The 2 recent scenarios are a little different from the normal with bathroom floors. Generally tile grout and tiles get repaired / replaced by the Owners Corporation as the issues accompany some waterproofing issue this necessitates the replacement of the floor tiles and grout.
These next 2 scenarios are a little different and I have even within my office differing opinions (pretty much split evenly) as to who is responsible and why so thought I would raise the issues here for your opinions. (I will provide the scenarios and my position, but would love to hear others opinions and also Amanda’s from her position.
12 year old 87 lot 9 story apartment building, Owner complaining grout is discoloring and turning black. The owner believes it is not mould as he keeps his shower very clean and it is a chemical from the waterproofing that is leeching into the grout. (cant be cleaned). This is the only apartment within the building with this issue and there is no evidence of or complaint of water leaking or escaping the shower area.
My Position on this is that the grout even though is on the floor is the lot owners responsibility to rectify as it is a cosmetic issue he is complaining about and not effecting the waterproofing or tiling.
14 year old 9 story 112 lot building, Owner is requesting the Owners Coporation replace his bathroom floor tiles and grout due to damaged flooring. We have had contractors in to look at the floor, look at the unit underneath to determine what damage is being caused and what the issue is. The contractors have found there are some areas where the grout is coming out from between the tiles, some areas missing up to 2cm of grout, but patchy. All tiles in place, no drummy tiles found and no evidence of water leaks.
My position is the same as the last scenario, there is no evidence of damage to waterproofing membrane and aesthetic issue.
I can personally provide an argument for both positions as the grout is below the upper surface of the tiles which could make this Owners Corporation responsibility but also that it is also an asthetic issue with lack of maintenance and or over zealous cleaning possible causes of grout falling out, So happy to seek your opinions on the above.
Cheers.June 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm #231527ts1904Expert
The grouting forms part of the tiling/waterproofing. Without it, the tiles wouldn’t be waterproof.
It’s like other parts of the common property where yes, the occupant should contribute to maintenance but ultimately the owners corporation is legally responsible unless it is somehow able to prove that the occupant/owner has directly damaged it (which is hard to prove).June 22, 2020 at 7:54 pm #231573Amanda FarmerExpert
I like this one. Thank you for sharing it here!
Yes, the grout is common property.
However, to address your two examples, in my view:
Scenario 1: stained grout is no more the Owners Corporation’s responsibility to fix than the internal side of a stained common wall. The grout is still fit for purpose and functioning as intended. That is particularly the case if there is no evidence of staining in other lots and they have the same original tiling. The situation might be different if the owner could produce some kind of expert opinion confirming the cause of the staining is this waterproofing chemical…
Scenario 2: I assume an expert (tiler, waterproofer, engineer or similar) will tell you that if pieces of grout are coming out and leaving holes, gaps, etc, that will inevitably affect performance over time and lead to damaged tiles and waterproofing failure. Unless you can prove that the resident has caused the grout to lift due to overzealous cleaning, in my view the OC is stuck with fixing that one – and indeed, should, before it gets worse and the waterproofing is damaged.
Look forward to your thoughts in reply.
Amanda.June 23, 2020 at 12:23 pm #231611NathMember
HI Amanda and TS1904
Thanks for your replies, greatly appreciate your time and information on these issues. In scenario one, we spoke to the original waterproofer and tiler and they completed all the units with the same products. While his advice was it is possible for some waterproofing to react to some grouts, it is unlikely to only effect only one apartment and not the others. We wrote to the building and asked for feedback if anyone else had that issue with no other confirmed responses. The Owner got a letter from his plumber to advise that it is the waterproofing causing the discoloring, the waterproofer can not confirm nor deny except for his comment of possible but unlikely. The committee is split on this issue of some wanting the OC to just replace the grout to get the issue off the table while others are a firm No as they don’t want to replace grout that is in place, functional and only aesthetically displeasing. (while not convinced of the waterproofing causing the issue)
With Scenario 2, thanks for that information, it has helped a lot. The longstanding committee members have advised that they and others within the building replaced their own grout historically when they were with their previous agent under their instructions while the newer committee members and newer owners are seeking advice on this as they don’t hold a firm position either way. But your advice has helped.
While 99% of grout or tiling issues come from either broken or drummy tiles or water leaking issues but with 15 years as a SM i can honestly say these are the only 2 grout only issues I have dealt with that have not also involved tiling or waterproofing issues and with the conflicting opinions within the office had me questioning the legal position.
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