It’s one of the ironies of strata living that a lot of people choose to live in apartments because of the additional security that locked off floors, electronic access keys and CCTV provide – and that includes drug dealers and other members of the criminal fraternity.
So what happens if one of your neighbours is carted off by the police, charged with drug offences and is then released on bail awaiting trial?
If this person is a tenant, can they be evicted? How about when many of the rest of the residents are retirees whose only experience of drugs comes from a plastic pill dispenser with the days of the week marked on the lids?
We have already told elsewhere the story of the barking dogs, the drug dealer and the security cameras, but what, asks one Flatchatter, can you do when one of your neighbours is led off in handcuffs and returns with a trial date on alleged drug offences to look forward to.
The answer is, not a lot. For a start, being charged with drug or any other offences is not being convicted of them.
There is still a presumption of innocence in Australia – as there should be – so you have to let the court system’s wheels turn and grind out a result.
OK, what if chummy is convicted but released back into the community? Can you ask their landlord to evict them?
You can ask but not compel them to not renew the lease. Sadly, landlords don’t actually need a reason to terminate a rent agreement when it runs out, or when due notice is given for one that has already expired.
But there are no grounds for eviction just because the tenant has been convicted of a crime. If they are otherwise model citizens, don’t have loud parties, rarely park in visitor spots and never put pizza boxes or wine bottles down the garbage chutes, there is no reason under strata law or your by-laws to show them the door.
However, if the miscreant had been using the unit for illegal purposes that is a whole different story.
If the dense undergrowth on their balcony turns out to be a small marijuana plantation, if they have turned the spare bedroom into a Breaking Bad style ice kitchen or if the apartment is an all-night dispensary for illicit substances, then you can probably invoke a by-law against using the premises for illegal purposes to persuade the landlord to give them the order of the boot.
But what can your committee do if they strongly suspect nefarious activities but neither they nor the local constabulary can prove it?
Easy-peasy. First they send round a flyer saying they are thinking of installing additional security cameras which will cover common areas and may take in some owners front doors.
If that doesn’t scare off the baddies, then they move to the next stage and pass a by-law allowing them to install the cameras and recording equipment.
And finally, if all else fails, they go the whole hog and put the cameras in, posting warnings for tradespersons, required under Health and Safety legislation, that they may be being filmed.
If that doesn’t drive the druggies away, at least you will now be gathering evidence for the time when the police do come around.
And no, this is not a privacy issue. The outside of apartment front doors is common property as are lift lobbies. As long as the cameras aren’t pointed inside the unit, and appropriate signage is erected near the entrance to the block, they are perfectly legal.
There’s a lot more on this here on the Flat Chat Forum.