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Strata strife: The gentle art of complaining
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JimmyT
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11/12/2017 - 9:56 pm
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If you live in an apartment, sooner or later you are going to want to complain.

Whether it’s about the noise from next door, or the smoke from the barbie down below or the cretin who continually parks in your parking spot “because you weren’t using it” you will inevitably want to have a word with someone about something.

Nobody likes a whinger but, oddly enough, one of the worst things you can do is NOT complain when you have a legitimate grievance.

Letting an issue fester and stew until it’s a minor infraction of the rules that sees you blow your top doesn’t help anyone.

But when do you complain?  And who do you complain to?

Let’s take the most common issue – loud music and/or TV noise.  The first time you hear it you might let it go as a one-off.  But the next time and the time after that?

There comes a point when consistent and disturbing noise is interfering with your peaceful enjoyment of your home, and that is a breach of strata law, by-laws or rules in most states.

However, the person making the noise doesn’t know how loud it is in your apartment so a polite request to cut it down should be your first call.

If that doesn’t work, then a note to your building manager, strata manager or committee secretary would be the next step, followed by whatever official complaints procedure applies in your state.

By the way, it’s worth noting that there is no such entity as Stratakops.  No one is going to take up cudgels on your behalf – you have to make the running yourself.

Taking another example, a rogue parker can be a frustrating nuisance because you often don’t even know who they are.

Again, the softly-softly approach, like a polite note on the windscreen, may work well at first. If that’s ignored, a more forceful letter may be the go.

After that, your last resort may be the official channels, although one woman I know, when her final warning was ignored, gently placed a house brick in the middle of the windscreen. The car was never parked there again.

The worst kind of dispute is any that comes under the heading of ‘a matter of principle.’ If you know someone is breaching strata by-laws (rules) or even strata law and it’s not doing anyone any harm, maybe just let it go.

When you see a cat in the window of a flat where there are no pets allowed, or someone hangs a flower basket from a hook drilled in a balcony ceiling without permission, why would you even care?

Pour yourself a glass of wine or tuck into your favourite ice cream and tell yourself, “today I saved two people a lot of unnecessary grief – the person I chose not to complain about … and me.”

There’s a guide on how to pursue complaints, with links for most states,  HERE.

This article first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.

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williamW
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19/12/2017 - 12:20 am
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Hi Jimmy T. Great article regarding complaints. From your posts I feel like you and I are on the same page with most issues and I know you get pleas for help day in and day out, but here is another plea for help. What should I do? Our current strata manager and committee are not following the Act for committee meetings, for general meetings and general codes of conduct. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not a lazy committee, but they consistently breach the Act and our bylaws – notices for GMs posted late, incorrect number of proxies allowed at meetings, not indicating certain motions require special resolution on the notice, committee meetings with no agendas, attempting to rig committee elections, minutes for GMs supplied 12 months later, poll votes conducted incorrectly, committee members parking in visitor spots day in and day out, filming from hidden cameras in the car park by a committee member, and so on…you’ve heard it all before, I know. We had our AGM last weekend and a special resolution got passed by 1 vote (to have hard floors – ouch), but a proxy allocated to me emailed to the SM was withheld, and another owner voting for the motion had 3 proxies (we have 56 lots). By now it’s hard to believe the actions reflect incompetence, and easier to believe they reflect trickery. I know the Act, and I know why the provisions and clauses are there; to protect owners and to create transparency. Despite my protests at the AGM and letters to the SM and committee over the last few years – still no change. If anything it’s getting worse. I’ve already taken the OC to NCAT to adopt a 10 year plan – which ruled in my favor (amazing I know) and the SC agreed to adopt a plan and follow it, which is now in place. I really could use your advice, should I pour myself a glass of wine and let it slide or should I fight on and try to make the OC re-run the AGM given the mistakes and incorrect rulings, which I assume will require another trip to NCAT? It’s a lonely battle.

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Hamish
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19/12/2017 - 12:21 am
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What do you think about a two lot strata scheme in NSW which was shut down twenty three years ago with this statement:”With only two residents in the “complex”myself and my former neighbour felt that rather than waste money on strata fees we would manage the properties ourselves, which we did successfully for 23 years until her death.”

Managing the properties ourselves meant that nothing was repaired or maintained in that period of time.

I am the new boy on the block who has had to replace three external load bearing stud frames due to termite damage or the roof would collapse.
Deal with storm water drainage problems which make the slab extremely damp causing black mould inside the villa. Rusting gutters, Termite infested timber retaining walls, etc.

I have not been compensated for the $7500.00 it cost to replace the load bearing stud walls because in the opinion of the other owner I was compensated with the lower price I negotiated for the villa.

How can this obvious abrogation of responsibility to strata law be allowed? What penalties, if any, are in place for such people to be made accountable?

The owners corporation is now facing repairs and maintenance costs approaching $100,000 and this person wh0o has disregarded the law gets off scot free and others have to pay for their negligence.

Your response would be appreciated.

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