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  • #59279
    birdgirl
    Flatchatter

    Our self-managed 1960s apartment block of 2-3 levels has 23 units, of which 12 are owner-occupied.  All units overlook a U-shaped cul-de-sac courtyard –  a pleasant grassed area, bordered by low shrubs, with perhaps half a dozen larger shrubs – Camellia, Bottlebrush  and the like, fairly typical of that era. My unit is at the “dead end” of the courtyard.

    A new owner-occupier arrived in 2018 and asked permission to “work a small section of the garden for herbs and vegetables for the community to enjoy”.  Sounded innocent enough. No objection there.

    Over the following  two years that “small section “ has been considerably extended, complete with large compost bins, pavers, rock border, birdbath, and assortment of other pots and gardening paraphernalia, now looking like a suburban backyard, ruining the outlook from my unit.  My complaints to the committee (which includes said gardener) have been assertively rebuffed.  I knew it wasn’t allowed to take over garden area for personal use, but this case was using the pretext of “community use”.  Some residents do use the bins, and herbs.

    Eventually, very frustrated, I phoned DFT.  Great response/ reaction:

    “ It’s not about your view, it’s a breach of Section 108 of the Strata Schemes Management Act:

    any change or alteration to any part of the common property requires a special resolution agreed to by not less than 75% of the owners.

    You should apply for Mediation:”        ….. which  I have done –scheduled for next week, by phone.

    Now we are about to have a Zoom EGM, for the Owners Corp decision on what to take to the Mediation session.   Not surprisingly, the committee is going for retrospective approval, so there are two motions, one to keep the extended garden, and the other to remove it.  The motions have been split into sub-parts, adding confusion for voters.

    The committee’s “background” notes for email voting contain mis-information.  Of course, there may be a sympathy vote for the the Owner-occupier-committee-Member Gardener (OMG).   (We do have a monthly paid gardener, whose work is strictly controlled by OMG), e.g. the garden bed near my entrance was left abandoned for months (by order of OMG), until I sent a request to the committee.

    • This topic was modified 1 month ago by .
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  • #59288
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Well Fair Trading may have given you correct advice but I don’t know if it’s the best advice.  You are now looking at the garden being permanently installed with no regard to your or anyone else’s amenity.

    They are obviously going to try to portray you as the baddie and themselves as the goodies.  You need to turn that perception on its head.

    First of all, ask for the email addresses of all the other owners, on the grounds that they had misconstrued your position and this needs to be rectified.

    They will probably refuse on the grounds of privacy and you can tell them that privacy laws don’t apply to corporations of less than a $3m p.a. turnover and that you are entitled to see every document that the owners corp hold and that includes the strata roll and a list of email addresses.

    Then you can write to the other owners and ask them to reject the “all or nothing” proposal and instead ask the committee to come up with a compromise that limits the spread of the garden and its visual intrusion, including that bins and composting is hidden and that tools and accessories are tidied away every day.

    Point out that your and other owners’ amenity – the outlook – are being sacrificed to boost the amenity of one owner, the hobby gardener.

    Point out that very few other people use the garden and then in very limited ways.

    Point out the ratchet effect of by-laws – easy to pass on a whim, impossible to change even when only a minority of owners want to retain them.

    Come up with your own compromise solution, even if it’s only a rough idea, to show that you are not being Nimby about this.

    Finally, if you are reticent about speaking out, consider talking to our sponsors Strata Answers who will offer practical help and advice (for a fee).

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by .
    #59609
    birdgirl
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    This is what happened next: At the EGM, 13 owners out of the 22 owners choose to vote. Not surprisingly, as the plants have now been in the ground for almost 3 years, there was not a desire to have them removed. However there was some discussion about possible relocation of the 3 compost bins and numerous pots.
    The Mediation was by phone ( which I think was less daunting that face-to-face or zoom). the Mediator had the patience of a saint. 3 committee members, including the hobby gardener, participated, and I had a friend with me. The result was as good as I could have anticipataed : relocation of bins to out of the view from my windows, and removal of all pots. Unfortunately , no timeframe was discussed, but I’m guessing it wil take up to a month. Watch this space.
    As the scrappy garden bed is going to remain permanently, I’m thinking I’ll ask for an apology for my loss of pleasant outlook, resulting from the combination of ignorance (of S.108) and arrogance of both committee and the hobby gardener.
    I had some good conversation with Tonja Gibson of StrataAnswers which were very helpful indeed. Thanks to her, and to Jimmy.
    BTW I first contacted Jimmy many years ago 2011, on the topic of bird feeding and balcony fouling. On your suggestion we got a By-law forbidding feeding or attracting birds. The committee continues to allow the feeding; the balconies around have put BirdPoint on their rails, and we still pay for the steam cleaning.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by .
    #59632
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    BTW I first contacted Jimmy many years ago 2011, on the topic of bird feeding and balcony fouling. On your suggestion we got a By-law forbidding feeding or attracting birds. The committee continues to allow the feeding; the balconies around have put BirdPoint on their rails, and we still pay for the steam cleaning.

    Victor Dominello (then Fair Trading Minister, no less)  told me that his Second Reading of the 2015 Strata Act clearly implies that the Owners Corporation has a duty of care to enforce its by-laws.

    You could always ask the strata committee to start issuing notices to comply to the bird feeders then take a Section 232(2) action if they haven’t complied withing two months.

     

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