One of our long-suffering Flatchatters took her problems with her strata committee to NCAT the other week.
The dispute was all about work that the owners corp should have done in and around her property but never got round to.
Prior to this, at a general meeting, the committee pushed through a by-law saying that anyone who took them to a tribunal or court and lost would have to pay all the costs.
Clearly the intention was to scare off this owner and anyone else who dared to challenge them through normal legal avenues.
Now, we advised previously that this by-law was probably just a bluff, as only the Tribunal can award costs (or not, as is more usual). Did we say bluff? Of course, it’s bullying, by any other name.
The law firm that had drafted it conceded privately (to us) that it was a common tactic to deter “nuisance litigators”.
So then our Flatchatter (Whoopi) turned up at the Tribunal. The committee sent their highly-paid lawyer whose slick presentation convinced the Member that there was no case to answer. Case dismissed.
“Hang on,” said Whoopi. “Can I explain what has really happened?”
She then gave the Tribunal member chapter and verse of how she had been treated and how the committee had played fast and loose with the facts and the law (including paying the chairman very handsomely for his services).
The Member promptly reversed her decision, set a completion date for the work and encouraged Whoopi to itemise it so that they couldn’t say they hadn’t been aware of any part of it.
Whoopi then told the Member about the new “costs” by-law. The Tribunalista went through the roof, insisting that it was invalid and illegal and would never stand up at any Tribunal in NSW.
So there you go – if you have a by-law apportioning any costs of any legal action to anyone, feel free to be highly sceptical. Courts and tribunals set costs – not strata committees.
You can follow Whoopi’s trials and tribulations by searching for her name on the Flat Chat Forum. Meanwhile here are some fresh calls for advice and answers.
- Is stencilling on a concrete terrace floor common property? That’s HERE.
- How many ordinary owners does it take to call a general meeting? That’s HERE.
- Who makes and enforces the rules? Who gets to be on the strata committee? How do I get a list of proxies? That’s all HERE.
- I’m being threatened and even had my tyres let down for parking on a public road. That’s HERE.
- What can I do about homophobic verbal abuse? That’s HERE.
- Why am I being blocked from proposing a motion? That’s HERE.
There are always more questions and answers on the Flat Chat Forum which is now easier and faster to access than ever. Click on the Forum page and have a look for yourself.