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Committee won't breach laundry hangers
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shb
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31/05/2017 - 9:42 am
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Hi,

Me and wife are owners of a unit in Sydney! Wifes on the commitee,and we have a majority of committee members holding EC positions who are not willing to vote to serve a notice to an errant tenant,who has been flouting by law of hangng clothes on balcony.

He has received many warnings and a notice from the previous SM in 2012. Whats different is that one of the EC member is a friend of his and has got the other members to vote against giving a notice to comply.

The SM says he needs a majority to serve notice. The EC members are least bothered with the upkeep of the block,and are only interested in getting their friends as contractors for cleaning,bins and other needs!

Wife and another lady owner on committee, don't know what to do since they don't have a majority agreement. Isnt there something that can be done when the committee goes rogue and isn't enforcing by laws?

Despite all this,the errant tenant,emboldened by this one comm.member is hanging clothes on the balcony despite many warnings from SM. Our plan has a by law in place against hanging of clothes on balcony,especially since its in front of building. Please advise!

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Sir Humphrey
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31/05/2017 - 11:08 am
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The committee has some discretion to enforce or not enforce. A committee might be of the view that the frequency or quantity of the washing in this case is so minor as to not be worth enforcing. Or they might have some other reason, which may or may not be reasonable. Perhaps they are just prioritising the limited time and energy of a group of volunteers to something they consider more important than the offence caused to some by visible smalls?

The committee of which I was a member till recently had one member opposed to enforcing a particular instance of a breach of a rule (ACT-speak for by-law) but the rest of the committee supported enforcement and proceeded. The minutes recorded the one dissenting view. So, for a start, the committee members could insist that minutes record who supported and who didn't. 

The committee only has discretion in the absence of a general meeting resolution directing it. So, if you are sufficiently bothered by washing (I am generally unconcerned by washing on balconies), you could put a motion to a general meeting that the OC directs the committee to enforce this by-law in all circumstances. That would test whether a majority of owners feel this is necessary or reasonable. 

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shb
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06/06/2017 - 9:20 am
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Sir Humphrey said
The committee has some discretion to enforce or not enforce. A committee might be of the view that the frequency or quantity of the washing in this case is so minor as to not be worth enforcing. Or they might have some other reason, which may or may not be reasonable. Perhaps they are just prioritising the limited time and energy of a group of volunteers to something they consider more important than the offence caused to some by visible smalls?

That would test whether a majority of owners feel this is necessary or reasonable.   

I did write a response to this immediately but its not featuring now! Anyway,what i wrote was that its really silly to have legislation,but when one tries to implement it,everyone seems to develop cold feet! Its almost like the law is on the side of the law breakers!! When the majority is on the side of the ones breaking by laws consistently for 5 years,then what comes to mind is this- "Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it" Leo Tolstoy.

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Sir Humphrey
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06/06/2017 - 10:58 am
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shb said

Anyway,what i wrote was that its really silly to have legislation,but when one tries to implement it,everyone seems to develop cold feet!

I agree this can go in either direction. On one hand you can find a committee with insufficient resolve to enforce rules/by-laws/articles, leading gradually to a culture of disregard for the rules. On the other hand you can get a committee that is over-zealous about minor matters and that leads to contempt for the committee and is just as counter-productive. Getting the balance right is not always easy. 

By way of example, our committee was sticking to its guns on what should have been a simple rule-infringement matter (ACT-speak for by-law breach). A unit owner had erected an unapproved structure that was easily reversible and utterly without any reasonable justification or redeeming features (there was an unreasonable justification).  The matter was still continuing when we had a new committee comprising all the old committee plus one new person. The new guy threatened each committee member explicitly with public undermining through letterbox dropping and that we would each be personally facing cross-examination by a QC if we supported enforcement action. The rest of the EC out-voted him and we went ahead, successfully. 

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