What is classed as a communal item in a shared apartment block?
It will also cover some things to do with your apartment, but not everything, so it’s worth being mindful of what is classed as a communal item and what isn’t.
A communal item is one which serves two or more people. The pipework in your apartment can only serve you and as such is not communal. But what about the pipe outside your apartment? The building will have a mains water supply where your apartment supply branches off and that is where you become responsible.
Electrical supply and wiring
This is very much the same as pipework. Once the cable leaves the electric meter (wherever that is) that’s when you become responsible. If you are a landlord and rent your apartment out, you should have the wiring checked every 5 years.
Window frames, glass, and doors
These items, whilst they only serve your apartment, could be communal. The reason for this is that these will be defined in the section of a lease called “demised”. This tells you what in the flat you are responsible for. Some leases make you responsible for the window frames. This doesn’t mean you can rip them out. It simply means you have to pay the repair or replacement costs. If you ever have a cracked or smashed window, check who is responsible for its replacement.
These are not communal unless they are all replaced at the same time. If you lose a key or someone damages your box you have to pay the repair costs. No one shares your mailbox and so it’s not communal.
Same rules as window frames apply. Front doors have to be 60 minute fire safe doors. We have seen many leaseholders have their front doors damaged and then replace them with non-matching non-compliant doors. They then have to replace them all over again at their cost! Always check with your managing agent if your front door is damaged.
Appliances such as washing machines and cookers
These are not communal and all yours to replace and repair.
Understanding what is communal and what’s not is very important. The easiest way to know is that if it only supplies you / your apartment then usually it’s not communal, but it’s always worth checking your lease or referring to your managing agent for further guidance.