January 16, 2024

Responsibility for Common area lighting

What are a Body corporates common area lighting responsibilities and requirements.

While there is no legislation around communal lighting, the body corporate does hold a legal responsibility/duty of care that is covered under the Workplace Health and Safety Legislation.
Common area or communal lighting contributes to risk minimization, loss prevention, insurance premium reductions, and often less considered
beautification and property value adding.

(Which of the below multi-residential complexes in the same suburb would you choose to live in?)

External walkways and access roads will have their own lighting which can be roof, fence or pole mounted. Referred to as common area lighting, these are controlled centrally on separate metered power supplies and the responsibility of the body-corporate.
Communal lighting is important to have working at all times as residents and visitors use the lights to easily and safely find their way around buildings, pathways, carparks, and common areas.

So how can we meet our legal, duty of care for common area lighting?

1. Install motion-activated lighting.

It’s no surprise that break-ins are less likely to occur in well-lit areas. If your strata property does not have adequate lighting in the driveways, the
access roads, pathways or common areas, you may consider installing motion-activated lighting in these areas.

Motion-activated lighting may increase your strata property’s security by triggering whenever motion is detected in a nominated area and staying on for a designated amount of time. This option is more energy-efficient than permanent lighting, as the lighting is only active when people are using the nominated areas. Motion activated lights also deter criminals from entering or lingering on the property.

2. Install energy efficient or solar lighting.

Lighting can consume up to 40% of energy in commercial premises, depending on the external lighting area and type and quality/quantity of
lighting used.
If there are sufficient electrical lights in the common area, then upgrading to LED lights should be high on your list, and very cost effective.
If there is insufficient external lighting and access to mains power if difficult or expensive (especially if garden beds, pathways or roadways need
excavation work) then using a high quality solar lighting solution should be on your list for consideration.

Solar lights with high quality, durability, long warranties, and easy serviceability are a highly cost-effective way to meet your duty of care.
Solar lights can also be retrofitted to existing 240V poles in most cases and include Motion sensors alongside dimmed standby lighting to reduce
excessive light pollution.
Look for a company that has a proven record of quality, service, and customer support. There are plenty of cheap solar lighting solutions, but in
the long run, they will cost you more than expected. You can gauge the quality of the light by the warranty offered, and if after-sales support is
available. ie: a one-year warranty reflects the basic consumer product protection laws and does not indicate operational life expectancy. Look for products with 2 years or more warranty, and check if this is a full replacement or
if you have any out-of-pocket expenses on warranty failures.

Summary

It’s no surprise that the boom in multi-residential living has resulted in significant electricity consumption and increased expenditure.
Remember, common area lighting is extremely important, and has many legal, social, financial and ethical implications. Schedule common area lighting for your next body-corporate meeting agenda.

Autor’s statement: As we enter an age where the planet’s longevity depends on our actions today, there is a growing need for strata communities to reduce their emissions and increase environmental sustainability.

The opinions offered in this post are of general nature only and are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.