Roundup: Strata cyber-bullies brought to book


Over the years we’ve had a few stories about strata bullies in Flat Chat.

Bullying in the workplace is bad enough but when it’s happening in your own home it takes on a more sinister aspect all together, whether you are the victim or just a witness to it.

It might be residents being bullied by committee members, committee members being bullied by their chairs or strata managers or everyone being bullied by one owner.

And what is bullying, anyway – an inappropriately harsh criticism or a relentless campaign of denigration and harassment? Or both?

Well, a story from Hynes Legal, who are (among other things) strata lawyers in Queensland, reveals that the Fair Work Commission there has drawn a line in the sand to define what bullying is and when and why it’s not acceptable.

Now, we know that Queensland is a different planet when it comes to strata, if only because of the legalised corruption of the pre-sale of on-site management rights.

Those management rights often involve people on one side who have invested a lot of money in buying them (enriching developers) and, on the other, the strata owners who have to pay for them, having had no say in what the contract contains.

A recipe for conflict? You bet! And in the case cited by Hynes, the frustration on both sides of the equation is palpable. The report in question is an entertaining read – even if you live in Queensland.  Go have a look for yourself.

But the key finding is pretty much a definition of what’s not acceptable in any strata scheme anywhere.  Cutting to the chase, disputes between the manager and the chair of the body corporate about services and their costs had descended in to a war of emails.

Now, there were clearly faults on both sides but on their website, Hynes Legal say the key paragraph in the FWC findings is this:

‘… there are appropriate mechanisms and processes to resolve such disputes than a war engaged in by email. [The chairperson] of the body corporate committee has access to a strata management company and to other sources of information about how such disputes should be resolved. It is not reasonable for [him] to continue to send emails to [the manager] raising issues about why remuneration under the agreement is set at a particular level; what the remuneration covers; and whether it should be reduced. Such emails will not resolve the underlying issue and they are causing distress to [the manager].’

“Yes, the manager’s conduct was clearly frustrating to the chairperson,” says the article, but “sarcasm and derogatory or belittling language is also simply not on. Adding some snark is always easy to do when you are frustrated, but it never, ever, helps sort out stuff like this.”

You’ll find the full story on the Hynes Legal website HERE.

Meanwhile, the next time you are frustrated with the behaviour of your strata manager, building manager, committee, neighbours or tenants, and you are tempted to send off yet another haranguing “snarky” email, ask yourself if you are turning into a bully.

And then just log on to the Flat Chat Forum and tell us about it, like these Flatchatters already did:

  • Can we charge Airbnb hosts for additional administration and wear and tear?  That’s HERE.
  • Can a by-law supersede the Development Authority for the building or scheme? That’s HERE.
  • I need to move into my investment unit with my dog which is adored by my kid who’s on the autism spectrum.  How can I get around the pet ban in the by-laws? That’s HERE.
  • Our committee says we could be sued if we don’t replace our old brick balconies with glass ones that are compliant with current building codes.  Is this true? That’s HERE.
  • Strata manager says chairman can’t chair the AGM as the committee ceases to exist at its start.  Is this correct? That’s HERE.

Needless to say – but I’ll say it – within minutes of this post hitting the website, it will generate even more questions. Log in now and see what’s going down.

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