Podcast: Inside a strata disaster … a pet ban backfires


I am occasionally asked how come I ever got into writing about apartment living.  After all, I’m a published author,  have been a reasonabIy successful TV scriptwriter and occasionally still turn my hand to travel writing.  Against any and all of those pursuits, writing about flats and by-laws, committees and Airbnb breaches might seem a little … um … prosaic.

It’s not, by the way – far from it.  The French philosopher Albert Camus once wrote that everything he knew about life he learned from the football field (he played in goal for Algeria). Well, much of what I know about people has come from observing the way we behave when we are obliged to live together, under the same roof, sharing many of the same facilities, adapting (or not) to each other’s quirks and foibles.

It all began 20 years ago when my partner Sue Williams and I bought an apartment off the plan, encountering dodgy developers, corrupt building managers and incompetent strata managers, all ring-mastered by a shady chairman. Luckily for us, this convocation of bullies and boneheads made a fatal mistake early on … they decided arbitrarily to ban pets when many purchasers had bought in on the basis that it was a pet-friendly building.

That simple misstep brought together people who might not otherwise have even spoken to each other and who, in their campaign to block the pet ban, began unpicking the the connections between the developers, their in-house managers and their cronies on the committee .

Apart from liberating the building from the clutches of a bunch of less than honest players, it led to the book Apartment Living (written by Sue and me), which led to a long-running weekly column in the Sydney Morning Herald and now Financial Review. That column was called Flat Chat … and here we still are.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.  Enjoy the podcast.



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