Are you a criminal, a rebel or a know-all? Or is it your neighbour who’s one of apartment living’s permanent pests and constant troublemakers.
Strata lawyer Amanda Farmer, founder member of Women In Strata, has compiled a list of the six main “difficult residents” in unit blocks, ranging from the troublesome to the troubled.
They include, she says, the criminal, the know-it-all, the domineering committee, the rebel, the bully lawyer and, sadly, the mentally ill.
“Not only does the criminal breach the by-laws, he or she engages in some seriously anti-social and illegal behaviour, including drug dealing, property damage and theft,” she explains.
“The domineering committee challenges the strata manager at every turn, ignores advice and, by its micro-managing, increases costs for the building all round.
“The rebel parks wherever they want to, leaves their personal items on common property, installs floorboards without approval and doesn’t turn up to NCAT hearings.”
Despite being a lawyer herself, Ms Farmer saves a special mention for two members of her profession.
“The know-it-all is the newly graduated university student (usually with a law degree in hand) who ‘just wants to make this a great place to live,’ upsetting the status quo and criticising an already overworked and under-appreciated committee,” she says.
“The bully lawyer usually acts for a lot owner in dispute with the owners corporation. He or she catches the strata manager off guard and later quotes ‘admissions’ the manager had made about liability over the phone.”
However, while she doesn’t hold back on her assessment of the other five problem strata residents, Ms Farmer has a more sympathetic view of mentally ill residents.
“This is a particularly difficult case which requires a balance between understanding and empathy and confident enforcement measures, often involving the police and health-workers,” she explains.
Ms Farmer says that while there are legal processes to effectively deal with each of these categories of people, there are also some very practical, common-sense measures.
“In my experience, these practical measures are grounded in clear communication, consistent approaches to enforcement, and the confident assertion of rights and obligations,” she says.
“Where these three elements are present, a committed strata manager, with the support of appropriate advisors, can deal effectively with difficult residents.”
Women in Strata offers advice and support the growing number of women in strata management.