Living in self-managed strata blocks is becoming more common in Australia. With population growth and higher density living accommodation, many new apartment buildings are popping up in major cities. Now that Owner’s Corporation structure has five tiers, smaller complexes of 3 – 99 lots can opt to self-manage their OCs.
There are plenty of perks to being part of a strata body corporate situation, including shared amenities that one may not have access to living on a single title, including parking spaces, gyms, meeting rooms, elevators and more. On the flip side, some annoyances commonly arise in strata-title complexes. Any strata manager will tell you that a few complaints present themselves regularly.
Owners Corporation Model Rules promote quiet enjoyment, safety and security of all lot owners and should be circulated with any new tenants to ensure the rules are transparent from day one. Here is insight from our leading strata admin service, Our Body Corp, about the six most common strata complaints and how best to handle them.
#1 Pet Noise
In strata property management, four-legged friends often create nuisance from incessant barking. Dogs usually bark when left alone, and the owner may not be aware of the problem. Bringing the issue to your neighbour’s attention is best received if you show compassion towards their pet. For example, “Every day between 9 am-2 pm, your dog barks on and off. He must miss you while you are out at work, so perhaps he would benefit from extra play toys, chewy toys, or the sound of a TV to reduce his anxiety. I hope you can ease his distress because it is quite distracting for us.” If nothing changes within a reasonable period, you could discuss it again, raise it with the OC Committee or report the problem to your strata manager for further action.
#2 Smoking Smells
In strata communities, people dwell close to one another, and smells from various activities can inevitably disrupt residents’ quiet enjoyment. Smokers in multi-dwelling accommodation are usually not permitted to smoke in common areas. However, they may smoke on their private balconies or terraces, which can infiltrate neighbouring apartments and common area hallways. The best first step is to ask smokers to close their balcony doors and windows to ensure that the smells don’t penetrate the building. It is also worth having the HVAC in hallways checked for optimal performance.
#3 Airbnb and Short-stay Tenants
Over recent years, many OCs have battled with the antics of short-stay residents at their buildings. The complaints usually involve security fears, mess and damage to the common area facilities, loud noise from parties, additional guests and lack of understanding of the common area rules. Some OCs have created extra hurdles for owners of lots who plan to use their property for short-stay guests. Placing signs in communal areas to explain the rules can help. If short-stay guests continue to be problematic, raising the complaint with the OC Committee is a good start. The issue may resolve easily if the owner shares OC guideline documents with all guests and gets a signed agreement from guests to adhere to strata rules.
#4 Parking issues
A common problem in strata-managed buildings is car park allocation. This can include visitor car spots being occupied by the same vehicle for prolonged periods, disabled car spaces being used by tenants, tradespeople parking in seemingly empty bays etc. Car stackers can also cause issues for those sharing a stacker, especially if the equipment is mistreated. Lot plans are usually black and white, and referring to these plans can resolve issues. For once-off offenders who park in the wrong spot, a phone call or email from the strata manager or an OC committee member can help. Towing unruly cars is a common consequence for repeat offenders.
#5 Internal renovation noise and mess
While everyone has a right to upgrade their lots for functional or aesthetic reasons, the process can impact the building negatively, including tradespeople bringing mess into shared areas, dumped waste, loud noise penetrating communal areas and unlawful use of parking bays. These issues can be avoided by ensuring that the lot owner understands the importance of requesting cooperation from their tradespeople in line with the OC rules, including any special rules such as lift use for materials and access.
#6 Strata manager complaints
Strata administration services are abundant Australia-wide; however, strata body corporate or owner’s corporation companies have vastly different service levels. Some offer a proactive approach, and others tend to do only what is required without attending to complaints promptly, leaving OCs frustrated with their chosen strata manager and complaining about them. Effective communication is always key, and considering a change of strata management is always an option, sooner or later.
After attempting to resolve the issue on your own, reporting complaints to your strata property manager is the advisable next step. Email or online reports will be dated and recorded and can always be referred to if the issue escalates. Ultimately, if a complaint escalates, the OC Act 2006 and OC Regulations 2018 spell out the steps to take to mediate lawfully.
Our Body Corp provides state-of-the-art self-managed strata management services, underpinned by expert strata managers who are available daily to assist with complaint resolution. If you find yourself on one end of an Owner’s Corporation dispute, feel free to get in touch for professional guidance.