With such a large number of people living and owning in strata, disputes in strata schemes are common. Add into the mix the diverse backgrounds of these people, cultural differences, the differing interests of owner-occupiers and investors, differing levels of knowledge and you have a recipe for conflict.
Strata managing agents are usually more knowledgeable when it comes to meeting procedures and strata compliance than other attendees at meetings and are often looked upon to solve these disputes Strata managing agents should approach disputes with caution and in most cases take on a role akin to a mediator/facilitator and not a decision maker.
Ultimately it is a democratic system and the decision making should be left to the owners by way of a vote For Instance One owner may wish to keep a large dog in their unit in contravention of the by-laws and seeks the owners’ approval. The owners may not want to provide that approval. In situations such as these, it is the strata managing agent’s role to allow the parties to be heard and direct the owners’ corporation to proceed with a vote (provided that it is a motion that has been placed on the agenda). Once a vote has occurred, do not enter into any more discussion of the issues. Remind the parties that they have been heard on the matter and a vote has been taken. If a party is still aggrieved, you could advise them of their further options, such as mediation in the Office of Fair Trading or Adjudication and Tribunal proceedings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Most Common Disputes
- Large Expenditure where large expenditure is being considered
- Unauthorised Works where an owner is not aware of what is lot and common property and undertakes work without approval
- Pets Keeping of pets or contravening strata by-laws
- Noise Owner or occupants making too much noise
- Parking Visitors or residence parking in visitor parking or on common property.