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Not expecting to find the answer to my problem on a public forum but was hoping there may be someone else out there who has had a similar situation to what we are facing.
Brand new here so I’m hoping this is the correct forum!
Background: Our small family (Myself, partner and baby) purchased a Strata Unit (1 of 4 which goes down the street with each unit having it’s own street frontage and driveway. The land around the units is common ground but has been divided up among the residents over time just not legally with each property looking after there own garden etc. The body corp fees cover insurance on the property only and no maintenance of gardens etc. Each unit has its own separate water and gas meters on their portion of common land.
We’re quiet people, myself an emergency services worker and my partner is currently a stay at home mum. We’ve never had neighborly issues before and are not combative or up for confrontation. We just want our own space and privacy.
The unit next to us is occupied by the daughter of the owner. We have the first unit which is one of the side units so we have a slightly larger portion of common land (A roughly 1m x 15m strip of land that goes down the side of our property from street to rear fence) Most of this extra area is fenced with a gate only accessed by us. Unit 4 is up the other end of the block and has a roughly 8m x 15m section of unused and un-fenced common land as it is close to a main road. Her unit is positioned between ours and unit three so lacks the amount of land we have but has a large portion both front and back. We discovered day one of moving in that the previous owners who were also a young family had many issues with the unit next door mainly in regards to the back dividing fence (Which didn’t exist when we bought the place) and the residents putting there bins next to our unit on the strip instead of using there own common area or the front porch like every other unit does.
We began trying to negotiate in good faith with the neighbor about three months ago. We always maintain that it’s best not to get personal in these situations. We asked if it would be possible for her to move her bins back onto her portion or another position at the top of the block where there is a much larger area of common area. I offered to build a bin enclosure for her if that helped the situation. The response was very negative and quite aggressive stating that she can put her bins wherever she likes as it’s common land ( I’ll add that where they are positioned now is a garden bed and not a designated bin area by Body corp) .. We continued to ask nicely if she could reconsider, spoke to the other two neighbors who were happy for her to have the bins in the top area but were still met with 100% refusal.
We dropped the issue and thought we would wait until the body corp meeting next year to hopefully put it to a vote and have them moved. Unfortunately though over the past month the daughter has become very passive aggressive presumably because we’ve attempted to have the bins moved. Loud phone calls at 3am most nights became common as well as music and she began leaving her bins on the nature strip after collection day for up to 4 days (These are sitting in front of our place not hers) We decided we had enough and emailed the owner letting her know that we would be going ahead with putting a garden in where she had placed her bins , it was nothing personal, and that although we acknowledge that the land is common ground it is not a designated bin area. We also left the offer open for me to build her an area in the other common area.
In response we received another very aggressive email stating that she would put her bins over the garden if we went ahead. Sure enough that’s just what has happened. The daughter at first started trying to wreck the garden with the bins (We never confronted her, just let her do it and then returned the bins to her nature strip once she was gone). At night she started pounding heavy base music and vacuuming after midnight against the common wall waking our 6 month old baby a number of times. Again we didn’t react, just logged the disturbances. After two days she then proceeded to confront us with accusations that we had slammed the bins against her car to which we asked her to call the police in that instance as we hadn’t been near them, again we diffused the situation by walking away. Then two days following the accusations we had her apparent BF staring us down every time we came and went from our place, my partner asked him if something was wrong and before we knew it I was being called some pretty harsh names and told to walk inside as he walked closer to our property with his top off. This all occurred while my partner stood there with our baby in her arms. We could only gather that he wanted to physically fight but we didn’t stick around to find out and just walked inside.
A day later the owner finally arrived at the property, I was at work but my partner was home. She arrived with an older male and the male picked up the bins and proceeded to slam them into the garden bed to break apart the plants. My partner attempted to speak to owner but was ignored and my partner didn’t push the point as she was home alone.
We’re feeling pretty horrible and my partner is feeling very unsafe in her own home. We are trying to ignore them and take the high ground but it is becoming very difficult to stay civil and not stoop to their level. We’ve left the bins now and are attempting to convene an emergency body corp meeting to deal with a number of issues relating to the tenants behavior and to try and have it voted in that a designated bin area needs to exist rather then owners being able to place there bins next to other peoples places.
If we can’t get the body corp meeting to take place or are unable to get it voted in we’re not sure what we can do.
We’re considering purchasing a security camera system and also going to the council with the noise complaints.
Has anyone out there had a similar situation? Any strategies to deal with neighbors like these? Again we don’t want to abuse them or fall to their level so retribution etc isn’t an option.
Thanks in advance!
Whatever you do make sure you contact the other owners explain your position and get them on side. I find that by the time everyone gets to a meeting and vote many owners have already decided their positions.
You mention this neighbour making vindictive noise as well. Maybe others have been inconvenienced by this also.
If it comes to a vote you need to explain to the other owners how this owner is flaunting the rules and being selfish. While it is you they are targeting today it may be them in the future.
Thanks for the replies guys.
We’ve requested a meeting and the secretary is keen on getting this sorted. One issue is that 1 of the 4 owners is currently overseas with a sick relative and won’t be back until next year. I’ve been doing some research and it appears that voting on a proposal can be done via email as well (I could be wrong) ..
We’ve installed cameras discreetly as I’m quite concerned my car could be damaged.
I’ve got no time or patience for violence threatening punks. Discreet cameras may be of value but I’d have no hesitation mentioning this to police so they are aware. If you call it in numerous times I imagine they will pop by of their own accord, and if they need to repeat this she will get short shrift should they return. That necessity to involve cops by reasonable people will also work in your favor as the other owners won’t be happy to be known to live in a block that police need to call to so will want the issue sorted quickly. Also, have you been in direct contact with the owner? They may not be aware of the issues their kid is creating and just may move in your favor to halt her line of poor behavior. Also, sounds like though you live your own lives you likely have by-lays in existence so are bin protocol etc already mentioned in these which can easily be enforced/reminded to all owners so it isn’t just felt focused on her? All the best with it all.
… 1 of the 4 owners is currently overseas with a sick relative and won’t be back until next year. I’ve been doing some research and it appears that voting on a proposal can be done via email as well (I could be wrong) …
It should be possible for the absent owner to either 1) send an absentee vote. An electronic image of the filled in voting form should be acceptable, or 2) appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf.
Unfortunately, by-laws can’t regulate interpersonal relationships. The advice above about contacting the police is good advice. It may be necessary to contact the police if the verbal abuse, loud music, phone calls etc. continue even if the bins are no longer an issue. There should be a police contact number for non-emergencies (131 444 in QLD) for you to phone about the loud music, verbal abuse, prank phone calls, etc.
It’s too late now, but one way to have approached the situation, would have been to put your bins where your neighbour puts her bins. After all, it is common property and not an exclusive use area attached to your neighbour’s lot. Since she’s behaving irrationally, that might have provoked her into tipping your bins over which becomes a health issue for you to contact the local council and your owners committee.
Having real dramas now.
Neighbour is claiming two different rules have been broken according to the model body corp act.
The first one is in reference to the back fence which was erected earlier this year.
1.1 Health, safety and security of lot owners, occupiers of lots and others A lot owner or occupier must not use the lot, or permit it to be used, so as to cause a hazard to the health, safety and security of an owner, occupier, or user of another lot.
She is claiming that the gate I installed needs to be unlocked. We have a dog and so does she. We also have a baby. We had major issues with her walking out the back of our place before the fence was erected. The problem is that her property has no access no side access so I’m not sure if we can really argue this one? My only thought was that the neighbour to the other side of her could position a gate for her, thus giving her emergency exit. I suggested this to the other neighbour and he said he’d think it over.
The second is in reference to the garden bed where I have placed plants and taken away her bins.
(2) An owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the written approval of the owners corporation, use for the owner or occupier’s own purposes as a garden any portion of the common property.
In regards to the garden, I’m more then happy to remove the plants and pot them for the time being, that doesn’t really bother me. Would this just require me to get approval form the body corp and then she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on?
This whole situation has absolutely devastated us. We are seriously contemplating moving due to these issues as there’s no way we’ll sleep at night knowing that the owner, her daughter or the aggressive BF could walk through our back yard at any time.
Neighbour is claiming two different rules have been broken according to the model body corp act.
Yes, but what do your scheme’s by-laws say? Those are the ones that mater, not the model by-laws. In any case, the only appropriate response is “bring it on!” Let them take you to the Tribunal (NCAT) if they think they have a case. Bush lawyers have all sorts of opinions, expressed loudly, until you say the magic words “see you in court”.
Would this just require me to get approval form the body corp and then she wouldn’t have a leg to stand on?
Exactly. All you need is a letter from the secretary saying you have permission to use the area as your garden until such times as the Owners Corporation requires it for some other purpose.
At this point I can only recommend that you seek the advice and services of someone like Strata Answers, who will advise you and write letters on your behalf (for a small fee) or Nick Penny (NickP@Intensive-Care.com.au) who is setting up a similar service.
An independent person who knows the law and what your options are, and can tell the other parties authoritatively when they are crossing the line, will break the cycle of bullying and BS that’s going on here.
Meanwhile, lock the gate and tell them if they interfere with it, you will have them charged with criminal damage.
“Exactly. All you need is a letter from the secretary saying you have permission to use the area as your garden until such times as the Owners Corporation requires it for some other purpose.”
In regards to this, do you mean a letter just from the secretary stating permission or do I need to take this to a vote at the Body Corp before the letter can be written up?
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