10 ways to lower your levies

The old adage that you get what you pay for doesn’t always apply to levies or fees for apartment buildings. Sometimes you pay too much for what you are getting. Generally speaking, you should be paying your fair share of all your building’s services, whether you want them or not. But are you getting value […]

Are rogue renovators doing your block?

“I have just bought a unit and I want to renovate,” says a reader. “Is there anything I need to know and permissions I need to get before I proceed.” Is there ever! First, if you are planning a DIY reno in your spare time, inspired perhaps by those sexy people on The Block, you […]

Are your levies too high … or too low?

Nobody likes paying strata levies or fees, as they are called in Victoria.  They feel like a tax on apartment living even though they are really just your share of what it costs to run all the bits of a building that surround your unit. Even so low levies are often a selling point for […]

Sounds of summer: ‘where’s my airbnb key?’

I’m sounding like a cracked record on this but the first signs of summer – exhausted travellers buzzing at the door demanding keys to their holiday rental – have set alarm bells ringing in a friend’s building. Sure enough, checking the Airbnb website,  we found a two-bedroom unit for over $360 a night, minimum two […]

Mediation: The umpire strikes out

I have just sat through my first Fair Trading mediation, holding the hand of a friend who had raised a complaint, and I can now confirm what Flat Chat readers have been telling me for years:  it’s a lottery that depends way too much on the calibre of the person in the middle. I can’t […]

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Study lets renters rant

It’s one of the truisms of apartment living – renters don’t complain … they just move somewhere better. That’s not always the case but tenants could be forgiven for thinking that nobody is listening to them for the simple reason that nobody cares. However, that is no longer the case. You stories and observations about […]

Rent rebate for reno gone wrong

Nobody wants to be a whinger, especially when they have just moved into a supposedly renovated property, but Flatchatter Gumball has plenty to complain about. “Nearly all the windows have been painted shut but some have been painted open and won’t close; the garage door into the house won’t lock or even close correctly and […]

Flat Chat hits 500

They said it would never last (well, I did) but this is my 500th Flat Chat column after more than 10 years of its existence. Why are we still here? Perhaps it’s because some things never change while there is always a new challenge around the corner. In the past decade, our greatest achievement was probably getting […]

An ill wind in Victoria

Whisper it, but Melbourne may be feeling the first gusts of a perfect storm that could and probably should lead to a major rethink about apartment living.  Perhaps it will just blow over but there are too many negative elements lining up for the signs to be safely ignored. According to recent reports, they include […]

Defect deadline warning at Flat Chat Live

Executive committees in some new buildings have just four weeks to make a claim for defect rectification or they could miss out completely, according to panelists at last week’s  Flat Chat Live sessions in Sydney. Strata experts warned owners in the defects danger zone – buildings more than two but less than six years old […]