It’s that time of year when Santa has to decide who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. And here in Flat Chat Central we were thinking, why should he have all the fun?
So we have decided to launch a poll on the 2018 heroes and villains in strata. Who do you think did most to make our lives better or worse in the year gone by?
The devil is in the detail but was it the demonic duo of Fair Trading Minister Matt Kean and Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, who were within minutes of announcing an open door policy that would have allowed short-term holiday lets into our apartments, with almost no limits or restrictions?
The microphones were plugged in and the cameras ready to roll until the word came down from Macquarie St that there was a revolt underway and members of their own party were prepared to cross the floor to vote it down?
Getting away from Airbnb for a minute (if only it was that easy) how about Salim Mejaher, jailed bankrupt former mayor of Bankstown, convicted electoral fraudster and developer of disrepute?
Between his OTT wedding last year and his subsequent convictions and charges, it may have gone unnoticed that Salim also pulled a few swifties in the apartment building business, including some shape-shifting in one block where the number of units per floor increased – after they’d been sold off the plan.
He had grand political ambitions once, but his greatest achievement may have been making other property developers seem like saints.
On the subject of developers, how about the guy who bought a development and delayed the completion, just so he could re-sell properties already bought off-the-plan, but for even more, once the sunset clause kicked in on the contracts.
He lost his case in the Supreme Court – and a lot of money, as well – as some owners used new laws to protect their investments.
Then there are our own Flat Chat villains – like the north coast farmer who built a block so he could have a penthouse with an ocean view – then threw the strata laws out of the window and treated his purchasers like serfs.
And there’s, collectively, the rogue parkers, brat dumpers, party animals and pet lovers or haters.
Or maybe Sydney City Council who weren’t the only local government area to drop the ball on short-term lets … but they’re by far the biggest with the most units.
Or is it Strata Community Australia, the strata managers, whose owners group, bless them, is kind of getting in the way of the growth of independent representation for strata residents.
On the positive side, there are people like independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich who not only headed up the same sex marriage campaign but worked hard to get recognition for apartment residents – tenants and owners – in the Airbnb debate.
There’s Parramatta MP Geoff Lee and Drummoyne MP John Sidoti who led the Liberal Party revolt against the planned, ridiculously lax short-term letting laws.
And the Tenants Union deserve a mention for stepping away from their own survey that seemed to suggest that holiday lets had no effect on rents or housing availability. It was cited endlessly by Airbnb, who were, understandably, ropable when the TU belatedly issued a BS alert.
Also among the potential heroes, there’s Finance Minister Victor Dominello who introduced the Sunset Clawback laws that prevented developers from delaying the completion of apartment blocks, taking them back from off-the-plan buyers so they could re-sell them in a rising market.
Opposition Better Regulation spokesperson Yasmin Catley could do with some recognition for her position on rent reforms and short-term letting.
There’s the growing number of strata service fringe dwellers (as I call them) like our own sponsors Stratabox and Bnbguard and owner advocates Strata Answers.
And last, but definitely not least, there are those doughty, determined volunteers at the Owners Corporation Network. They are under-funded, undermined and under-appreciated but they will take on the big end of town and global corporations alike, to fight for you and me.
So who is your strata hero? It could be someone I haven’t even thought of, let alone listed here.
Send me a nomination – by email or Forum post – and I’ll compile a short-list for you to vote on.