One of the fundamental problems with living in strata is the fact that we can’t get away from our neighbours and if they decide to make our lives more difficult, we find it very hard to ignore.
We have two examples this week of people who feel they are being bullied and want to know what they can do about it (links below).
There are things you can do t, but they require determinations and, in some cases, a bit of personal courage. However, it doesn’t help when everyone from your committee chair to the local cops say “this is a private issue – deal with it yourself.”
Having just completed a refresher course on defamation in journalism, I am reminded that strata schemes have what they call ‘qualified privilege’ when it comes to discussions and the distribution of minutes..
That means, in the interest of allowing for the frank and free discussion required for proper running of a strata scheme, you can name people in your unit block who are causing problems, provided the purpose isn’t just to shame them.
That sounds a bit daft, I know, but the key element is malice or, hopefully, the lack thereof.
If you say in your minutes that there was a discussion at a meeting and it was decided to write to the resident of Lot 275 because we have reason to believe he has been putting nasty notes in people’s letter boxes and we want him to stop – that’s probably OK if that information has only gone to other owners.
But if you put posters up saying Joe Blow is a bully and a sneak and people should stop speaking to him, that has a whiff of malice about it, and there goes your qualified privilege and Joe can take the committee to court seeking damages.
Obviously, if you were considering either of these option, you should talk to your strata manager or lawyer first. But what you can’t do is do nothing. You’ll find suggestions of what you can do in the Forum answers linked below.
- What do you do when an owner claims they are the caretaker (they’re not) and then arbitrarily cancels an AGM (they’re not even on the committee)? That’s here.
- Another strata bully has got himself on to the executive committee and is now running a campaign against two other committee members – slashing tyres and sending nasty anonymous emails. That’s here.
- What should an owner do when a problem tree is damaging drains, she is prepared to pay for its removal but the strata manager says leave it till it does more damage? That’s here.
- Can an owner who’s behind on their levies be elected to the executive committee? That’s here.
- There’ s a $3 million bill for repairs: can some owners pay their share up front (avoiding interest on a loan) while others take a strata loan that the up-front payers don’t have to pay back through the levies? That’s here.
- Is the EC allowed to censor the noticeboard by removing notices that they object to? That’s here.
- The strata manager tells the EC that they can elect who they want but they don’t have any decision making powers because they have delegated them to him. What’s going on? That’s here.