Issues and grievances between neighbours within a Strata complex can occur from time to time. Maybe your neighbour’s morning routine includes blasting heavy metal songs at 6am to wake themselves up. Perhaps the dog in the apartment above yours cries all day while their owner is at work. Or maybe someone in your apartment complex keeps parking their second car in the visitor’s spot.
Whatever the issue, there is a path to resolution and it’s often simpler than you’d expect.
Strata Dispute Resolution
Approximately a quarter of Sydney’s population lives in a Strata title. With so many people living within close proximity to others, disputes and conflicts will naturally arise from time to time. Disputes that involve a breach of Strata bylaws in NSW are not necessarily a cause for alarm and can mostly be solved through a simple conversation. Most of the time, the resident breaking the Strata bylaws is unaware of their error.
Common Strata Disputes:
The most common Strata disputes include:
Most Strata schemes will have bylaws about noise. Common noise sources that are areas of concern are instruments, music, alarms, dogs, power tools and visitors. There may also be time restrictions for noise that varies on weekdays and weekends. Often, the resident making the noise is unaware that others can hear them, making noise complaints easily solvable most of the time.
Parking on common property without approval
Residents are only allowed to park in the space allocated to them. They are not allowed to park in the visitor’s car spot or any areas reserved for emergency vehicles.
If a resident has been breaching the Strata bylaws associated with parking, it is recommended to reach out to them to remind them of the rules.
Pet related disputes
Pets are allowed in Strata and an owners’ corporation cannot stop you from owning a pet unless the pet is causing an ‘unreasonable interference’ in the lives of the other residents. Banning all pets are not allowed in NSW however a building might also have specific by-laws relating to Pets so make sure to check your scheme’s by-laws.
If your neighbour’s pet is making excessive noise or damages to the apartment complex or exhibits unsociable behaviour, it is best practice to first approach your neighbour directly about your concerns. Most pet related concerns can be easily solved through training or increased supervision.
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Common property issues
Other property issues that may cause a dispute between owners include unpermitted alterations to the building or damages to communal areas.
If this is the case please contact your Strata Committee or Strata Manager for advice.
Internal dispute resolution
Most issues can be worked out through a friendly chat.
Your first step should be having a talk with the resident or owner breaching the by-laws about your concerns. Most people will be receptive and apologetic if you politely remind them of the Strata bylaws. Internal dispute resolution is the simplest way to go about Strata dispute resolution or resolving strata bullying incidents.
It’s important to remember that the person breaking the Strata by-law will continue to be your neighbour even after the dispute is resolved. A quick and polite conversation will make life easier for everyone going forward.
If you are unsure who is causing the potential concern, you can reach out to your Strata Committee for guidance, they can then reach out to your neighbour or their landlord with a notification of the by-law being breached.
Notice to Comply
A Notice to Comply is a written warning that asks the person to stop breaking the Strata by-laws. The Notice must refer to one by-law. If there are any other concerns that involve additional by-law breaches, they must have their own Notice to Comply.
Prior to the issuing of a Notice, the Owners Committee should first notify the lot owner or occupier of the breach in letter form. The letter should also include a request that the owner or occupier stop. If the breach continues after the landlord or tenant has been notified, a Notice to Comply can be issued.
Notices to Comply must be written using the correct format, as detailed in Section 146 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015. Prior to the issuing of the Notice, the Strata Committee or Owners Committee must convene and hold a meeting to discuss the Notice.
If the lot owner or tenant continues to breach the specific by-law contained within the Notice to Comply, the Owners Corporation can apply to NCAT on the basis of a penalty order.
If you are unable to resolve through discussion, there is a Strata mediation service available for Strata issues in NSW provided by NSW Fair Trading. Strata disputes can be brought forwards by either party for Mediation; a form of negotiation that involves an impartial mediator assisting the two parties to arrive at a fair decision.
Mediators are not judges and cannot impose a penalty or solution on a party. Instead, they identify possible options and help the two parties communicate openly so that they come to their own conclusion. The final decision of Strata mediation is not legally binding.
If all other means of dispute resolution have been exhausted, then the Owners Corporation may have to take the dispute to the NSW Strata Tribunal.
Tribunal hearings comprise only a small amount of elevated disputes and Strata issues in NSW. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) resolves disputes following a hearing, in which evidence and other relevant documents are provided by each party. The Court will ultimately make a final decision based upon the provided evidence.
How Jamesons Resolves Strata Disputes
Jamesons has a diverse background in resolving Strata disputes through cost-effective and timely means. We understand that it is important for both parties to resolve disputes with as little external involvement as possible as cost effectively as possible. Our Strata management team excels at providing an open space for tenants and owners to voice any concerns while knowing that issues will be properly addressed.
The importance of Strata Managers in resolving disputes cannot be overstated. To find out more about how Jamesons could help your Strata scheme run more smoothly, get in touch with our team today.