It’s a crying shame

Are apartments appropriate places for small children? They’ll have to be if we’re going to accommodate Sydney’s swelling masses. But do the rest of us have to put up with the noise that’s all part of being a kid?

QUESTION: Despite promises to the contrary by the owner, the apartment above ours has been rented out to a couple with two small children.  This is a 1970s building and the other apartment owners are all between 55-70.

For two years we have lived with crying babies all night and jumping and running all day.  The carpet upstairs is very thin and the sliding doors have worn runners; it sounds like thunder as the kids crash around the place.

We spoke to the parents but they told us to move into an over 55’s block. We are abused whenever we ask them to stop the kids making noise (like banging the metal railings on the balcony).

Many other owners are complaining. What rights do we have as owner-occupiers?  Can we have them evicted? – Larry, Manly.

ANSWER: It’s actually against strata law to exclude children from apartment buildings (unless it’s an over-55s development) but that doesn’t mean they can do as they please.

Basically you need to focus both on the family’s behaviour and on getting the owners of the unit to bring it up to scratch (like fixing their doors and having proper sound insulation on their floors) so that normal behaviour by any tenant isn’t a problem.

Check your by-laws to see which of them are being breached by either the tenants or the owners, then get your executive committee or strata manager to issue “notices to comply” which could lead to fines at the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

But don’t make this an attempt to ban children – that won’t fly.  It’s a question of behaviour and whether they are tenants or owners, a family or a rock band, your neighbours must comply with the rules of your building and the owners must maintain their property.

The threat of $550 fines for breaching your by-laws should bring that home to all concerned. Meanwhile think about adopting Fair Trading’s model by-laws – they probably reflect modern living better than your 70s rules.

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