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Good Morning Forum!
Do Strata regulations have any ability to deal with an owner that suffers from a Mental Illness, I realise we all would like to classify our neighbours as Mad! This is not intended to insult or offend, I refer to a owner who has a medically recognised Mental Illness.
Any Information Welcome!
Jimmy T has written an article about a similar topic here:
If the mental health issue presents as squalor and hoarding then the following information may be useful:
May I suggest you, your committee and your strata manager tread very carefully. I would make sure I had spoken to a strata lawyer about privacy and discrimination laws. Also speak to the folks at Sane Australia. My mental illness was placed on the strata record and I took legal action and won. I still have to live with anyone looking at the records knowing about my illness.
That a neighbour has a medically diagnosed illness be it physical or mental is no one else’s business.
Their disruptive behaviour is when the strata manager/committee need to be come involved. Document the behaviour(s) and the effect they are having on other residents/property etc.
This way you don’t make the issue personal, you make it about the adverse effect on the community. The focus on the behaviours rather than the person will stand you in good stead when involving external parties and be of assistance in proving that your intervention is not a personal grudge.
[This post has been edited to remove unnecessarily combative language]
Someone who has a “medically recognised mental illness” should not be “dealt” with any differently than any other owner.
A person’s illness of any kind is not the OC’s business, unless they have asked for it to be, and even then it needs to be treated with respect, without discrimination and in confidence. (it certainly should not need to be in strata records unless they permit it, or spread as gossip).
Strata can respond to particular behaviour if it causes a legitimate disturbance to other peoples use of their lot or common property, or other breach of by-laws, but they cannot act because someone has a mental illness.
And they should not assume the behaviour has any connection to the mental illness either. A “medically diagnosed mental illness” can mean an extremely wide range of illnesses, degrees of impairment, and level of success of treatment and none of them necessarily correlate to problem behaviour in themselves. You also can’t act on something they might do.
Even when the issue is something like hoarding, you need to be sure that the EC or OC are acting purely on actual documentable and negative impact on Strata property or by-laws, not, for example, your personal judgements on what are acceptable ways to live or keep a house, your discomfort or fears because you can’t understand it, or your predictions of what might happen in the future.
Keep records and document the impact of particular behaviour on Strata appropriate issues, don’t try and attribute cause or throw around diagnoses. This is more likely to be successful because it removes the personal and judgmental element from the interaction. You will also appear more reasonable if things come to mediation or a hearing.
Perhaps you can rephrase your question and tell us if there is a particular disturbance, by law breach or other outcome you are concerned about?
If your question arises out of concern for the person, then it is not a Strata issue, but a personal one, and it is great that you are concerned about your neighbours and your community. The EC or SM cannot step in and make an official response to someones illness, it is up to you to act if you want and think you can help. Here are some ideas –
- Ring or google an organisation such as Sane Australia, Beyond Blue, Lifeline or the Black Dog Institute, to ask for advice on ways you can support people with a mental illness and what to do if you are concerned. They can also tell you the next step for what to do if someone does want you to help them get treatment.
- Ask the person in question if there is anything they would like help with, or that they would like you do if they seem unwell, or who they would like you to call if you are concerned about them. Don’t spread such information about them as gossip.
- If a situation arises that you are very worried about, such as you fear the person is at risk of hurting themselves or others, already has done so, is causing an extreme disturbance or making others fearful of their safety, you should call the police. If they have not been seen for a while, you can also call the police and ask them to do a welfare check. (Calling the police may sound horrible if you do not wish to cause trouble for the person, but the police are used to dealing with these situations, and are the ones with the power to take people to hospital compulsorily if needed.) Call your local police station unless it is an emergency, in which case call 000.
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