Last week we published this article about how strata committees naming, blaming and shaming residents with whom they disagree can lead to a whole raft of other problems.
These range from deterring owners from participating (hurrah! say the strata control freaks) to legal suits for defamation (“what do you mean we’re not insured for that?!?”)
But one Flatchatter – the chair of a large building in Sydney – says there’s another side to the story, as they’ve written to explain.
I refer to your recent article titled Named, Shamed and Defamed, which I read with great interest
I think there is way too much naming, shaming and defaming going on which is easily facilitated by social media as well as within the strata community, as you point out in your article.
It is your point “describing them as a known troublemaker could be interpreted as malicious” that raises concern. Many strata communities have their ‘known trouble maker’ (KTM). Often the KTM uses resources available to them inside the community and via social media to bully and harass people, because that KTM doesn’t like a decision or a person or can’t get their own way on a particular issue or set of issues, wants or needs recognition – their needs go on!
This bullying and harassment can take many forms, naming, shaming and defaming a person or committee, straight out lies about a person or committee, rumour mongering with no basis in fact, threats of legal action, unnecessarily involving the authorities (police, fire, council), excessive communication – their tools of trade are seemingly endless.
Common in the KTM kit of tools is the ‘victim card’. The KTM claims they are hard done by, it is everyone else’s fault, the committee won’t listen, they believe their own lies – sound familiar with those communities with a KTM?
Getting back to named, shamed and defamed – the corollary then is bulling, harassment and the victim mentality. Particularly when long suffering committees and strata managers have been dealing with disruptive behaviours over an extended period and have had no option but deal with it at Committee level, which sadly makes it public.
In these cases, the KTM is often then feels ‘challenged’ to escalate and continue, now as ‘the victim’, leading to the use of the statement in question, “describing them as a known troublemaker could be interpreted as malicious”.
Committees and Strata Managers have tools like: simply ignore the KTM, by-laws and legal recourse available to them – the latter costing significant amounts of money. However the reality for Committees is contained in your statement “regardless of the outcome, the emotional and financial damage to both parties can be devastating.”
The KTM often don’t care as they crave the attention and there is little financial impact for them. But for a Committee to responsibly protect the majority owners, there is a huge emotional and financial implications reflected in the countless hours spent, stress, frustration, and ultimate legal costs. It is any wonder that many Committee members end up saying “ I have had enough! It is not worth the angst and I’m getting out of here!”
So while there is a lot of truth to the points raised in your article, this corollary is also real and often seems endless to those dealing with their KTM. Thankfully the vast majority of people in strata just want to get on together and live in peace with their community! Many of us will recognise a KTM for what they are and support the necessary actions by their Committees to try and minimise the impact or hopefully put a stop it.
Your final point, “Fortunately, it has a very simple and inexpensive solution: vote them out the first chance you get.”, is true. The point I make is that the Strata Committee ultimately holds the responsibility for the happiness and well-being of their community, and whoever is elected, should always have this as their motivation – not personal agendas.