If you truly want a sense of community in your building – or even if you just want the building to function effectively – the place to start is your noticeboard. Every strata building should have one because, by law, you have to display the minutes of executive committee meetings where residents can see them.
But how buildings go about doing this is a good sign of the kind of building you are in. The most common around Sydney is a locked glass display which shows the EC minutes, a few notes threatening dire retribution if you break by-laws and the number of an emergency plumber. Some don’t even have that.
Others, like ours, are great rambling boards where anyone and everyone can post whatever they want (until somebody comes and takes it down, at least).
We even discovered recently that, in among the requests for car spaces to rent and offers of house cleaning services, there were ads for an “escort” service. They came down pretty quickly but it was amusing to see how brass-necked some people can be.
Basically your noticeboard serves four functions. The first is to fulfil your obligation to display EC and Owners corporation notices under the strata titles act. The board is also useful as a gentle reminder of by-laws that are being ignored and what will happen to culprits who continue to do so.
The third main use is to let people know of any temporary problems with the infrastructure of the building. If the pool heater is on the blink or the garage door is jammed, it’s a good way of letting people know that the EC is aware of the problem and is doing something about it.
And the fourth use is as a focal point for the building as a community. New restaurants in the area, storage space for rent, computer repairs … anything and everything that could make your life more enjoyable (with the exception, perhaps, of escorts) keep the board and the building alive. And as long as one or two members of your executive tidy it up occasionally, it needn’t be an eyesore or an embarrassment.
One variation I’ve seen on this was to put mini notice boards in the lifts. OK they were sealed but they carried a friendly, weekly update of what was going on the building and had a captive audience – brilliant.
My building is beginning to look really tatty and I want to paint my own balcony and front door so people can see that I, at least, take some pride in my home. But the building is dominated by old dears who don’t want to spend any money. Can I just go ahead and do it at my own expense?
JW, Bondi Junction
If your balcony is common property, no. The same applies to the outside of your front door. You could just go ahead but be prepared for a backlash if you overdo it. For instance, if the current colours are deadly beige and you want to go for a bright lilac, expect a note from the EC ordering you to repaint the balcony to its original hues at your own expense. Take a punt and make yours look good, but try not to make theirs or the whole building look bad.