When I wrote last week that there should be a ratings system for builders and developers, there was another brilliant idea bouncing around my brain, and one that has just as much chance of being adopted: a licence to live in strata.
It comes down to this: there is a whole bunch of people who just don’t belong in apartments or any other type of communal living.
There’s the “my home is my castle” type, the “me first” characters, the “what by-laws?” ingnorami, and the wilfully disruptive who resent having to live in units and want to make everyone else as unhappy as they are.
Now, while most people who are new to apartment living eventually adjust, there are a few who don’t know how to live in a community on any terms except satisfying their own selfish needs.
So, how about a strata licence that could be cancelled for persistent bad behaviour? It would make perfect sense: you aren’t happy here and the people around you aren’t happy that you’re here, so just go and live in a house.
But you have to give people a chance. How could you know they aren’t suited to living in apartments until they’ve tried it?
This is where the strata licence comes in. To begin with, every strata resident gets given a licence. No questions asked, just provide valid ID and the licence is yours.
After that, it’s up to you. If you ignore official warnings that you are breaching by-laws and the state Tribunal agrees that you are in breach – ping, you’ve got one strike against your name.
Do it again, or you’re found guilty of some other breach, and you have two strikes on your record.
Commit a third proven offence and it’s time to call the removalists – you have persistently failed to observe even the basic requirements of strata living and you really need to go and live in a house.
Now, suppose you realise how big a mistake you made and you want to come back to strata.
Great. But first, at your own expense, you have to undergo an education course about how strata works and why by-laws and a basic sense of decency and consideration for other people is important.
Once you’ve returned, if you want to improve your rating, then you do something positive for your community to win back a second star.
Then you only have to stay out of trouble for, say 18 months and you’ll get your third star back.
Of course, people who live in strata who don’t get into trouble need an incentive too. So how about a gold star for every two or three years when you are no problem or after you provide a tangible service to your community.
Why would you want all these stars? Well, if you are one of the 50 per cent of strata residents who rent, when you are competing for your next tenancy you can say “hey look at my stars, I am the perfect tenant.”
And what a selling point it would be if developers could say “we only sell to gold star strata residents”?
The strata licence would also be handy at committee election time. Anybody can stand up at an AGM and claim anything, but if the missing stars on your strata licence give the lie to your massaged CV, good luck in a tight vote.
Strata licenses have as much chance of being brought in as jail sentences for dodgy developers. But, on both counts, we can all dream.
This topic and the idea of a ratings system for strata residents was discussed in a recent podcast and you can check it out HERE.
A version of this column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.