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Here’s cheers to the best of the worst of your posts

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Following on from our “best of the worst” podcast last week, and as we emerge from our Covid-enforced hibernations, here at Flat Chat we’ve been looking back at a busy year.

Because, far from traffic to this website being being reduced by the various shut-downs, more people have been spending more time at home – working or otherwise.

Foe many of them, for the first time they’ve been questioning aspects of apartment living that they’ve previously ignored or taken for granted.

So 2020 has been way too rich a vein of confusion, chaos and confrontation for us to pack your posts, questions and comments away with our winter woollies.

For instance, we were asked what could be done about rats that had taken to chewing the cables on the engines of cars. The owners corp said laying poison baits for the rats was as much as they could be expected to do.

The car owner who was having to replace the cables every month, at considerable expense, disagreed and it may take a Tribunal to decide.

We hear a lot about strata strife but one reader asked what could be done about committee meetings that were a little too friendly and convivial.  Sensible debate and decisions tended to be in short supply after the BYO wine was consumed.

We suggested adopting standing orders that the wine would not be opened until the last vote had been taken.  Not only would that improve the decision-making process, it would guarantee the meetings were shorter.

Some questions had easy answers. Can 75 per cent of owners force a particularly annoying neighbour to sell? No – you can only do that in NSW when everyone is selling to a developer.

Can a strata committee member who owns two units have two votes?  No, it’s one person, one vote at committee level. 

What do you do about a strata committee chair who puts up signs to say “this building is not pet friendly” to deter potential pet-owning purchasers during sales inspections – despite the fact that the block allowed pets?

Simple answer, elect a new chair at the first opportunity (and that can be done by the committee in NSW and Victoria).

How does a Queensland apartment block sack a strata manager based in NSW? Which laws do they come under?

The answer is in the specific contract but it’s worth noting that body corporate managers, as they’re known in Queensland, are not required to be licensed or have any formal training or qualifications. Might be better sticking with your southerner.

These are just a tiny taste of typical issues in the Flat Chat Forum. Even if everything is hunky-dory in your home, pop in over the holidays for a generous glass of everyone’s favourite drink … schadenfreude.

A version of this column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.

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