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The great thing about modern high-rise apartments, for older people especially, is that they can be very secure. But what about when you WANT someone who doesn’t have a key to be able to get in.
QUESTION: I live alone on the sixth level in a secure apartment where every residents can only access their own floors. The estate manager is on site Monday to Friday between 8am and 4pm but what if an emergency service was needed outside of his working hours?
They wouldn’t be able to get to my level (unless another resident on this floor was there to let them up). The fire stairs would be useless as they are locked from the inside. – Stranded, Sydney.
ANSWER: Every fire truck in NSW carries a set of keys that override lift services to that they can get to wherever they need to go, regardless of security. Firies are frequently called out to assist ambulance services in an emergency. If they find your front door is locked, they have more sophisticated technology … it’s called an axe.
If only all strata questions were so easy to answer. This is the 300th Flat Chat column to appear in Domain and what started in 2004 with a trickle of readers’ emails, asking for help, advice and, occasionally, revenge has turned into a steady stream of confused, disgruntled, angry and even happy strata dwellers venting in print.
In the intervening six years the column has gone from a corner of a page to the impressive display you see now, with the addition of brilliant cartoons by Herald artists.
Readers range from the newly flatted to those who’ve been doing it for years, neglected by mainstream journalists who still believe that “nobody lives in apartments”. From what I hear, Flat Chat is the newspaper cutting most passed around and pinned to noticeboards. Even house owners read us.
Our single biggest achievement was our campaign that successfully bgot the law changed to stop bully-boy developers grabbing your Owners Corporation votes via sales contracts. And your emails have (anonymously) been the basis of a major study by the University of NSW’ s Faculty of the Built Environment into attitudes and issues in strata.
More recently, I’ve been turning up to talk strata on James Valentine’s show on ABC radio and occasionally elsewhere, including various conferences and seminars.
This website gets more than 2500 readers a week (about 75,000 “hits”) and carries every conceivable kind of apartment living story – good and bad – plus lively correspondence between Flat Chatters who relate your own experiences of apartment living.
It’s all about communication. I try to answer as many of your emails as possible but only a fraction can be printed here, which is why I’ve launched the new Flat Chat Forum.
Click on the Flat Chat Form link on the left and give it a try. You can still be anonymous but now others can share the advice you get – and you might be able to answer a few questions yourself.
The best questions and answers will still end up in the Domain section of the SMH, where it all started, 299 columns ago.
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