Hot-bunking a fire risk

QUESTION: We have been turning a blind eye to one of the units in our complex where the owner, (who also lives there) rents out bunk beds. I would estimate there are between 4 to 6 people living there at any one time.

It’s quite a squalid affair, with the whole Bangkok slum scenario of laundry hanging off the window. Four or five women pad up and down to the common property laundry through the day (I sometimes wonder if they are running a business out of that).

The owner is an ingenious little creature, having built a false floor into one of our common property sheds and used to get his power from the common property too.

We have turned a blind eye long enough I think. What’s the law? What’s the next step?

ANSWER:  This is an all-too-common problem with potentially tragic consequences (as we have seen recently). The answers lie in your by-laws and local council regulations.

First gather as much evidence as you can to prove that the unit is overcrowded.  Then look at your strata plan’s by-laws, hold an executive committee meeting and issue a Notice To Comply for each of the by-law breaches you can prove.

Meanwhile contact your local council and complain that the unit is being occupied in contravention of planning regulations and alert the Fire Services to probable fire safety breaches.

In other words, firstly make sure you have proof then hit them with everything you’ve got. In a way, you have no choice.

As Forum regular ScotlandX points out, if an EC is aware of a problem and does nothing about it, they are effectively condoning it and that can have serious consequences.

“Acceptance of the illegal use may void the strata insurance, either wholly or in part,” he explains.

You will find the correct form for a Notice To Comply HERE (remember you need a separate Notice for each different by-law that’s been breached).

Overcrowding is one of the issues that will be discussed at FLAT CHAT LIVE, a Q&A session we are hosting as part of the Strata Community Australia NSW lot owners day on October 20th. Log on HERE for more details.

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