No secrets in strata
Flat Chat with Jimmy Thomson
“When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else,” writes American science fiction author David Brin. And nowhere is that more true than in strata living.
But what are the laws on privacy in apartment blocks, or anywhere else for that matter? Are you entitled to demand that your personal details are kept secret from your neighbours.
The simple answer is no – but then, in strata, nothing is that simple. This has become a very real issue for Flatchatter Noah whose apartment was flooded by water from a burst hot water tank in another apartment.
“I have Landlord’s Insurance and wish to claim my excess from the offending apartment,” he writes. “I can’t obtain the owner’s details for my insurance company to seek reimbursement. The offending apartment is tenanted and the Strata Agent will not divulge the owner’s details for privacy reasons.
“How can I find out the apartment owner’s details so I can be reimbursed my $500 excess? Surely other owners have had similar problems?”
They sure have, and once you get past the issue of liability you often get the tricky question of how to contact absentee landlords.
In this case, the strata manager doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. As an owner you are entitled to see all the records of your owners corporation, and owners are legally obliged to provide a contact address to be placed on the strata roll.
Normally, this is such a no-brainer that a strata manager would just pass on the information, once they were sure you were a bona fide owner. Otherwise, you may have to pay a small fee of around $30 if they insist that you attend their office to view the files.
If the strata manager refuses, you should point out to them that they are failing in their duties and that privacy legislation, such as it is, doesn’t apply to members of owners corporations,
You might also add that if they continue to frustrate your efforts to send a bill to the owner, you will seek compensation directly from them and report them to Fair Trading.
The one thing they might legitimately withhold is the other owner’s email address, as there is no legal requirement for that to be registered on the roll. Otherwise, they need to open the books.
There’s more on this on flat-chat.com.au.