Strata strife: The not-so gentle art of complaining

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If you live in an apartment, sooner or later you are going to want to complain.

Whether it’s about the noise from next door, or the smoke from the barbie down below or the cretin who continually parks in your parking spot “because you weren’t using it” you will inevitably want to have a word with someone about something.

Nobody likes a whinger but, oddly enough, one of the worst things you can do is NOT complain when you have a legitimate grievance.

Letting an issue fester and stew until it’s a minor infraction of the rules that sees you blow your top doesn’t help anyone.

But when do you complain?  And who do you complain to?

Let’s take the most common issue – loud music and/or TV noise.  The first time you hear it you might let it go as a one-off.  But the next time and the time after that?

There comes a point when consistent and disturbing noise is interfering with your peaceful enjoyment of your home, and that is a breach of strata law, by-laws or rules in most states.

However, the person making the noise doesn’t know how loud it is in your apartment so a polite request to cut it down should be your first call.

If that doesn’t work, then a note to your building manager, strata manager or committee secretary would be the next step, followed by whatever official complaints procedure applies in your state.

By the way, it’s worth noting that there is no such entity as Stratakops.  No one is going to take up cudgels on your behalf – you have to make the running yourself.

Taking another example, a rogue parker can be a frustrating nuisance because you often don’t even know who they are.

Again, the softly-softly approach, like a polite note on the windscreen, may work well at first. If that’s ignored, a more forceful letter may be the go.

After that, your last resort may be the official channels, although one woman I know, when her final warning was ignored, gently placed a house brick in the middle of the windscreen. The car was never parked there again.

The worst kind of dispute is any that comes under the heading of ‘a matter of principle.’ If you know someone is breaching strata by-laws (rules) or even strata law and it’s not doing anyone any harm, maybe just let it go.

When you see a cat in the window of a flat where there are no pets allowed, or someone hangs a flower basket from a hook drilled in a balcony ceiling without permission, why would you even care?

Pour yourself a glass of wine or tuck into your favourite ice cream and tell yourself, “today I saved two people a lot of unnecessary grief – the person I chose not to complain about … and me.”

There’s a guide on how to pursue complaints, with links for most states,  HERE.

This article first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.

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