We know all about school bullies, workplace bullies and cyberbullies, but what about StrataBullies making residents’ lives miserable in apartments blocks.
They could be rogue owners determined to have their way, despite what the by-laws say. Or, in a nightmare scenario, they could have bullied their way on to the strata committee, belittling anyone and everyone who disagrees with them.
There are links to several anti-bullying
websites at the end of this post
So what exactly is bullying? NSW Education says it’s “repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons.”
The Safe Work Australia definition includes abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments, unjustified criticism or complaints and malicious gossip. Sound familiar?
But what can you do about it? One Flatchatter complained to their strata manager about bullying by a committee member and was told it was a personal issue between residents. Ironically, the strata management company’s website said the owners corp had a duty of care over bullying.
While strata law doesn’t specifically forbid bullying, there are powers there to curb it – provided your committee isn’t completely cowed.
For instance, the strata Act says residents must not behave on common property, where bullying is most likely to occur, in a way that interferes unreasonably with its use or enjoyment by the occupier of any other lot.
And most schemes have variations of bylaws forbidding residents from causing offence or embarrassment on common property.
But what happens when you complain and your committee does nothing? Its members may not like what is being done to you, but they are glad it’s not happening to them.
You can propose a motion that it warns Mr X about his behaviour. Hopefully being thus ‘outed’ on the record will make the bully behave. If the committee won’t even put motion on the agenda, you can pursue them through the Tribunal.
The committee may cite fears of being sued for defamation – a common reason for inaction. They have to be careful but qualified privilege applies to official correspondence among strata owners, provided it’s in good faith, there’s no malicious intent and it was for the better running of the scheme.
If none of that works, you can apply to your local court for an apprehended personal violence order (APVO) which can cover things like verbal abuse, intimidation and harassment.
There’s a lot more on this here on the forum
And you might find helpful advice on the these websites: