Tall tales but true: High-rise horror and hilarity


McNulty says: “It wasn’t me!”

Over the years, the Flat Chat column and website has told some high-rise horror stories.  Some are hilarious, others are horrendous.

Here’s a selection of the best of the worst and how they might have been avoided. Confession:  This contribution to the AFR has appeared in various forms elsewhere, so if you think you’ve read these stories before, you probably have. Oh, and that’s my cat.

The Cat Litter Lady

An apartment block didn’t allow pets, so the cat-loving owner kept her cat a secret, even flushing the cat litter down the toilet. Unfortunately, cat litter often stops when it hits a bend – then starts to build up.

Three floors of the prestige building were flooded with raw sewage before managers could get people in the upper 40 storeys to stop flushing their toilets while they fixed it.

How this could have been avoided: One answer would have been to have allowed pets (with restrictions).  Keeping animals out of unit blocks is very, very old-fashioned these days.

Wired for Sound

A DIY enthusiast cut his surround-sound speakers into his lounge-room wall to maximise the space saved by his new wall-mounted flat screen TV.

Unfortunately, it was a dividing wall and the neighbours were far from impressed by the booms and rumbles of his action movies.

How this could have been avoided: Every apartment block should have a handbook that it gives to new residents, explaining in simple language aspects of strata living that may not be obvious, especially to the hard of thinking.

Hooked in

A wedding party booked an apartment online for the weekend, for changing clothes and billeting guests after the reception.  One groomsman chose a fire sprinkler head to hang his suit on while he showered, activating the sprinkler system in all the rooms.

He rushed to the concierge, dressed only in a towel and locking the keys in the apartment. Several flats and one lift shaft were flooded before the water could be turned off.

How this could have been avoided: Don’t allow weekend holiday lets in a residential apartment block.  It really is as simple as that.

Noise annoys

A new owner moved into a block and immediately drove neighbours mad, playing his TV and music full tilt all night. When a committee member knocked on his door to get him to quieten down he was outraged.

“But I own this place,” he said. He thought by-laws only applied to tenants.

How this could have been avoided: Again, a residents’ handbook would explain in simple terms who has to follow which rules – and the consequences if they don’t.

Something Fishy

The complaints of damp in a ceiling led building managers through ever wetter units to an upstairs flat where astonished managers discovered the owner had blocked the drains on the balcony to flood it and turn it into a fishpond.

How this could have been avoided: Dumb residents aside, what’s remarkable about this is how long it took neighbours to complain that their floors and ceilings were getting progressively wetter.

Nobody likes a whinger but waiting for someone else to speak up when there’s an obvious problem is beyond pathetic.

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