Owner/Occupier sending residents nasty letters | Another day in paradise | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Owner/Occupier sending residents nasty letters
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kezza111
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08/10/2017 - 11:36 am
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Is there a way to stop an owner/occupier sending excessive accusative letters/emails to residents and the Property Managers.

No By Law breaches have taken place.

I have advised this particular owner to send her issues/concerns to me to deal with. She is very blunt and comes across aggressively in her approach to people.

However she has chosen to ignore me and continues to send nasty letters to her neighbours and other residents.

Her issues are causing disharmony and resentment amongst our little community.

I do my best to mediate between them all.

Some of these accusations are: bins not placed correctly in the right "numbered" space, cars blowing smoke or engine too loud, leaving back light on, neighbours talking out the front for too long, smell of food cooking, accused neighbour of poisoning her garden and the list goes on and on.

The Property Managers have forward her emails to me to deal with. But when I attempt to get in touch with the owner to discuss her emails she refuses to speak to me or reply to my emails.

What can I do as the Chair/Sec/Tres to stop these unfounded inflamatory accusations being made by this one owner and stop these nasty letters being sent.

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Sir Humphrey
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08/10/2017 - 2:21 pm
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Are they anonymous or signed? We have occasionally had such problems. Ours were often anonymously distributed. When we responded we made a point referring to their anonymity and signing our note with contact details an invitation to contact the committee for any further info. The contrast of inviting queries vs. anonymous is helpful. 

You might find that she is making herself unpopular all by herself and you might not need to do much.

Your committee could make a point of producing a friendly chatty newsletter which could also include nice polite requests/reminders where necessary about where to put the bins or whatever. Make it clearly 'official'. By contrast the nasty impolite notes will be seen for what they are. 

Your newsletter may not need to directly address the misleading notes but it could provide accurate and more plausible information on some of the topics. In time, the note-writer will lose credibility. 

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kezza111
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08/10/2017 - 5:48 pm
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Thanks Sir Humphrey.

The letters are signed by the owner herself.

As a small 6 Lot self managed NSW scheme, I have sent a group email inviting the owners to contact the committee (me) for further info or clarification...as we dont have a newsletter as such.

I have also sent group emails in the past as friendly reminders whenever it was deemed necessary.

The owner/notetaker has already lost credibility due to her behaviour.

The residents (owners & tenants) have advised me that whilst they think she has a screw loose..it is difficult to ignore her bombardment of letters on a regular basis.

I have advised them to ignore her letters...but they are frustrated.

The owner is ignoring my requests to discuss her letters.

I cant banned her from contacting the other owners in the scheme.

So what else can I do?

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JimmyT
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08/10/2017 - 6:10 pm
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There are two possible avenues here, but they both require an element of bluff.

If you have the standard by-law that says residents mustn't interfere with the "peaceful enjoyment" of other residents, get the committee to send an official "Notice To Comply" which carries the threat of a fine.  An official looking letter - you have to use the prescribed form - might do the trick.

Another option is to look at Section 153 of the Act (below) which would require you to seek mediation for her alleged "Nuisance" on the grounds that she is using common property (your letterboxes) to cause distress and offence.

Now, I know taht is a long shot, but the prospect of being dragged before a mediator and/or a tribunal and potentially fined may be enough to put her back in her box.

Worth a shot?  Poison pen letter writers often work on the basis that they can't be exposed or called to account.  Create a scenario where exactly that might happen and it could do the trick.

 

153   Owners, occupiers and other persons not to create nuisance

(1)  An owner, mortgagee or covenant chargee in possession, tenant or occupier of a lot in a strata scheme must not:

(a)  use or enjoy the lot, or permit the lot to be used or enjoyed, in a manner or for a purpose that causes a nuisance or hazard to the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not), or

(b)  use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of the common property by the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the common property, or

(c)  use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of any other lot by the occupier of the lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the lot.

Note.

 Depending on the circumstances in which it occurs, the penetration of smoke from smoking into a lot or common property may cause a nuisance or hazard and may interfere unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of the common property or another lot.

(2)  This section does not operate to prevent the due exercise of rights conferred on a developer by the operation of section 82 of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.

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kezza111
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08/10/2017 - 8:39 pm
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Thank you JimmyT.

Another question.

To make it clearer for the owners on how we should discuss these matters going forward..am I able to put in a motion for the OC's approval at the next general meeting that all concerns and issues in relation to allege by law breaches and causing a nuisance for others be communicated to the Secretary of the committee only and not directly with each other which causes the defending owner to become defensive.

I want to take the emotion out of this situation as much as possible.

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JimmyT
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09/10/2017 - 5:13 pm
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I can see what you are trying to do here but I'm not sure a motion at a general meeting is the way to do it (although, admittedly, a general meeting is the best chance of getting people all in the one place).

With that in mind, and at the risk of contradicting myself, perhaps a motion trying to establish a voluntary code of conduct for residents might be the way to go.

At the very least it would give you the chance to air some of the issues.  your proposed Code of Conduct could be something as simple as this (below).  What do you think?

INTERNAL DISPUTES: CODE OF CONDUCT

1. In the event of a dispute with a neighbour regarding residents' behaviour, we encourage residents to raise the issue politely, in person, with their neighbour.

2. If this fails to achiever the desired result, or proves too confronting, we advise residents to write to the strata committee secretary with details of the complaint.

3.  It is the Owners Corporation's belief that issues that can't be resolved amicably in person tend to be exacerbated if they are pursued via direct communication by letter, emails or other methods.

4. By reporting issues to your strata committee, it gives them the chance to register the complaint and assess if a by-law has been breached and, if so, take appropriate action.

5. Residents who choose to pursue issues on their own without involving the strata committee should take care not to be in breach of by-laws and regulations related to "nuisance" and the right of owners to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. 

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kezza111
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09/10/2017 - 5:59 pm
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Thank you JimmyT!

This is exactly what I was looking for.

Forever grateful for your advice.

Thank you once again! ☺

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