Dot lived in a 1960s block of 20 units that had not been well maintained. Literally falling apart, it needed major repairs to common property, including all exterior windows and ground-level garages. Essential work was also needed to ensure that interior doors and windows facing into the only stairwell complied with fire safety standards. The local council had refused to approve any development applications until this work was done and certified. The owners’ corporation was also having increasing problems getting insurance because of the building’s poor condition.

Dot complained to Seniors Rights Service that, as a pensioner, she could not afford the levies to cover the extensive work required. We advised Dot that the work had to be done. We told her she should vote for the finance option presented by the strata committee that would allow the longest payback time, and come to an arrangement about paying in instalments. We suggested she seek financial advice on whether a reverse mortgage or the Centrelink Pension Loans Scheme would be suitable ways to raise the money she needed.