When you buy a property that forms part of a strata scheme, you are effectively investing in a community.
The community is typically split into three groups.
- Lot Owners: The owners of the individual properties, often called “lots”, within the strata scheme. Lot Owners collectively make decisions about how the common property is managed, administered and maintained, and contribute financially to the operation of the strata scheme.
- Residents and Occupants: The people who live within the strata scheme. Residents may be lot owners (owner-occupiers) or tenants. They could also be people who work in any commercial lots that may exist in the strata scheme.
- Service Providers: The people who work on the strata scheme. This includes caretakers or cleaners, building managers who work at the building, Strata Managers who assist lot owners with the implementation of their decisions, trades who perform maintenance or repairs in common property or even managing agents who manage tenants on behalf of lot owners.
At times there may be some overlap whereby individuals fit into more than one of these groups.
The success of any strata scheme is dependent on how well these groups can co-exist within the shared spaces of the strata scheme while respecting the various rules and laws that govern them.
Simple things such as lot owners paying their levies on time, ensuring that they only park in the allocated car space will go a long way to ensure that the strata scheme operates effectively and harmoniously.
But whilst these two examples might be considered by many to constitute ‘common sense’, a quick look at the email inbox of a Strata Manager might suggest otherwise.
As Strata Managers, we are service providers who strive to assist all members of a strata scheme’s community to best enjoy the property and ensure that the wishes of owners are implemented effectively and legally.
However, sometimes, our job requires us to settle disputes between residents and occupants that could have been resolved with communication, making sure that both parties can co-exist peacefully and courteously.
So, how can the people who own, live and work within a strata scheme overcome conflicts and live together?
Here are 15 things to think about:
- Park In Your Allotted Car Space: There is nothing more frustrating for residents in a strata scheme than coming home after a long day of work and finding their car parking space being taken by someone else. A car parking space is part of someone’s private property and no one has a right to park anywhere other than their own. If your lot does not have a parking space, that means you’ll need to park outside. The same goes for visitor car parking. Be considerate of visitors to the property and ensure that these spaces are left for guests.
- Maintain the cleanliness of the lot’s exterior: Purchasing a lot in a strata scheme is a joint venture. One person’s failure will have a negative impact on the scheme’s overall value. One of the most important obligations that all body corporate residents share is the external appearance of their lot. If you have a private garden, keep it nice and clean. If you have a balcony, don’t hang clothes off the side. The goal should be to maintain a clean, neat, and clutter-free exterior to your property that upholds the overall appearance of the strata scheme.
- Keep it down: Noise in shared areas are inevitable but an attempt should be made to minimize it as much as possible. Council bylaws band excessive noise after 11pm and people should be wary of the regulations while conducting their activities. Try to be stay quiet while moving through common areas and maintain a low profile at night, to avoid causing an issue to fellow residents.
- When you make a mistake, apologise to your neighbours: Sometimes, we might be watching an intense match and might get carried away in our emotions, getting loud with our cheers or disappointment. Either way, there are times, when we overstep the mark and forget that we share our space with someone else. In such cases, the best way is to acknowledge that a mistake has been made at our end and apologize. The apology must be followed with actions but courtesies can go a long way in maintaining collective peace.
- Talk to your neighbours about any issues you’re having: If your next-door neighbour has been repeatedly doing something that’s affecting you, it’s best to not assume that they’re just trying to annoy you. Most likely they might be unaware that it affects you. If you want them to stop doing it, the best way to start is by talking to them about it.
- Approach any issues calmly: If you do need to approach a neighbour about their behaviour, then do so calmly and rationally. You catch more bees with honey after all and an aggressive approach is only likely to exacerbate the issue. No one likes being yelled at, no matter how in the wrong they might be. If you’re furious about the issue, it’s best to cool off for a day and then approach the issue calmly. Try to seek a collaborative approach in resolving issues.. Remember, you have to live with these people.
- When presented with problems or complaints, be calm and listen: Remember, you are living in a shared space. That means you will have interactions with other people and from time to time people might take issue with things you say or do. If that happens, listen calmly and carefully to their reasons and consider how you would feel in their position. Address the disagreements politely and acknowledge what can be improved.
- Be the bigger person: Okay, you’ve had a disagreement with a neighbour, and they’ve requested you to tone down the noise. It’s petty to go inside and turn up the volume. It’s petty to return the annoyances. Pettiness is unnecessary and it tends spiral out of control. The only thing that will happen is that everyone concerned will feel uneasy in their own home. By letting things go, you can avoid it.
- Accept the fact that you will have to share spaces and facilities: Strata schemes are about sharing, whether it’s money, responsibility, or space. Keeping noise to a minimum, parking in appropriate locations, adhering to by-laws, and keeping your lot clean and tidy are all important responsibilities for body corporate residents. Being considerate is not an infringement on your rights, they are part and parcel of what you agree to when you buy the property or agree to lease it.
- Treat shared spaces with respect: Respect the gardens and stay off the lawns. If you’re lucky enough to have a rooftop terrace or barbecue area or a gym in your strata scheme, look after these spaces. Make sure you clean up after yourself if you make a mess in a common area and leave any communal property in the same state that you found it in when you arrived. If a common area isn’t up to your personal standards, you should either file a report with the Strata Manager or with the Committee..
- If you notice a problem, notify the committee or the Strata Manager: If you notice something amiss or detect a problem with the scheme, notify your committee. We all tend to gravitate to particular sections of a strata development depending on where your individual property is or what aspects of the shared spaces you use and the people who sit on the strata committee are no different. It’s possible that a problem has gone unnoticed for a long time because the committee is unaware of it.
- Members of the committee do not have any additional rights: If you are a member of the strata Scheme committee, you are doing so as a volunteer and to support and give back to your community. This is not an excuse to police and/or berate others. It does not give you any further benefits. Yes, other owners should be appreciative for your efforts, but committee members and other members of the body corporate should be treated equally. Everyone is subject to the same bylaws and laws.
- Be considerate when bringing issues to the committee’s attention: Chances are that your Strata Committee and Strata Manager are dealing with a wide range of issues. Use the prescribed forms or channels to raise an issue, but keep in mind that your problem may not be the only problem in the building or development. It might also be the case that multiple lot owners are in arrears on the levies and the Strata Scheme does not have the funds available to attend to your issue right now. If you are really concerned, consider nominating yourself to be on the committee.
- Even if others don’t, ensure that you follow the rules: Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean that you need to do it too. The bad behaviour of others does not give you permission to behave badly as well. Set a positive example by doing the correct thing.
- Pay levies on time: If you are a lot owner, one of the most respectful things you can do is pay your strata levies on time. Your Strata Scheme relies on the timely payment of levies to ensure that contractors are paid, and works that help keep your common spaces in good condition can be carried out.. This helps ensure the strata scheme is an enjoyable place for everyone.
If you are looking for a new Strata manager to assist you with the management of your strata scheme and community, or want to work with a strata manager who can help you self-manage your scheme, get in touch with Our Body Corp today!