Strata living on the whole is a harmonious and enjoyable experience, largely thanks to the individual by-laws that define a strata scheme’s rules. Occasionally these by-laws may be breached by other owners or occupants in the strata scheme. Fortunately, there a number of methods in place to address these by-law breaches.
The first step to resolving strata disputes
We always suggest a friendly discussion as the first course of action if a neighbour is causing a nuisance through excessive noise, drifting smoke or unauthorised parking. Much of the time, airing the issue will solve the problem and with any luck the individual who has breached the by-law will change their conduct. If they don’t, the next step is to speak with your strata committee or strata manager about issuing warning notices, and if the behaviour continues, a Notice to Comply with a By-Law.
What is a Notice to Comply letter?
A Notice to Comply with a By-Law is a document that a strata committee can deliver to an individual if their behaviour is breaching by-laws. It is considered a formal warning to that person, and it is a necessary step in the escalation process for by-law breaches. The notice can’t simply be handed out by anyone; It must be approved with a majority vote at a committee meeting or by the strata management agent if they have been authorised to issue notices. It can actually be worthwhile delegating your strata management to handle complaints and issue notices on behalf of the strata committee, as this can save time and the need for meetings in the case of a by-law breach.
If the conduct and problem continues, then the next step is usually to escalate the problem to Fair Trading or to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
Escalating a strata dispute resolution to the Tribunal
Upon an application to NCAT by the owners corporation, the Tribunal will review the information and may choose to order mediation or issue a penalty to the individual of up to $1,100 as a deterrent to the by-law breach. If the owner or occupant has already been fined by the Tribunal for that same by-law breach within the last year, then they may face a double penalty of up to $2,200. If this is the case then the owners corporation can skip the step of sending a Notice to Comply with a By-Law to that individual a second time and apply directly to NCAT.