While it’s true that living in strata can provide you a friendly community and environment, it is not always the case with some strata unit owners or residents. Unlike living in a freestanding house, the attitudes and activities of other residents living in the strata can have a big impact on your enjoyment and satisfaction as a fellow unit owner or resident. Responsible owners or residents living in strata cooperate with other residents and are considerate of their neighbours to avoid conflicts and disputes. They also follow the by-laws set by the strata scheme, pay their levies on time, and take care of the common property. Some common by-laws deal with issues like parking, keeping an animal, noise restrictions, drying of washing, renovations, etc.
Keeping up with the by-laws usually minimise dispute within the strata and this will help you live harmoniously with your strata neighbours. But that doesn’t happen all the time. In one way or another, there will always be a ‘bad neighbour’ that will come forth in a flock of neighbours, a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. It’s not so hard to spot one, because for sure, your day is not complete without having to deal with nuisance caused by that bad neighbour. But don’t worry. Packing your things and moving out quietly is the last thing you need to do. Winners don’t give up that quick. Fight for your rights and stand on your ground. ‘Haters gonna hate hate hate’…but as long as you don’t give in on the dark side, you are always on the winning side.
We’ve laid down some suggestions for you and hope these will help you ‘restore the balance’ in your strata. Good luck and may the force be with you! (Sorry, too much pun! They just released a behind-the-scenes video at last San Diego Comic-Con.)
- Speak Up!
People always have a tolerance level for something that irritates them. The question is will you endure, ignore, or take action against it? Not taking an action makes your bad neighbour think that what he does is an acceptable behavior. Though it is not always convenient to confront, I am sure that you have tolerated enough of the bad behavior and now it’s time to approach the issue. Just remember to be calm, reasonable, and polite at all times. You are dealing with a neighbour who might not be aware of how annoying he is, so be a little forgiving, but be firm, clear, and confident with your intentions.
- Wrap up a gift.
Wait, what?!! A gift? Am I serious? The answer is a big YES! Bake some cookies or lasagna and hand it to your bad neighbour along with the copy of your strata by-laws. Highlight the things that he is guilty of not following. Again, he might not be aware of his bad behavior so we’re giving him a benefit of the doubt. If he still doesn’t get the clue, drop a bomb on his door, instead of cookies next time. Just kidding! You can proceed to the next step if this didn’t work.
- Keep a diary.
If your neighbour is regularly bothering you, you can keep a record of his nuisances for future reference. You can start with “Dear Diary: Today, I don’t know which one should I get rid first—my neighbour’s dog for peeing in the common area or my neighbour who didn’t bother to clean after the mess.” or “I hope he gets $5,500 fine too for non-stop puffing along the halls.”
- Issue a breach notice.
If the bad behaviour still continues after talking to him, you can ask the owners corporation or managing agent to issue a ‘Notice to Comply with a By-Law’ to your bad neighbour. After receiving the notice of breach and he still doesn’t comply, he can be fined up to $550 penalty, filed through the civil and administrative tribunal and payable to the Chief Executive of the Office of Finance and Services.
- Apply for mediation.
You can always apply for mediation through the governing authorities in your locality. For a complete list on where to find them, click here.