When people buy into or rent a unit under a strata title arrangement, it is a wise move to fully understand the concept and any restrictions it may place on lifestyle choices, before any contracts are signed. The very nature of strata title developments brings people in close proximity to each other in their living arrangements. It becomes very uncomfortable when situations arise that place harmonious neighbour relationships in jeopardy, especially if these situations result in legal action.
A quick summary of strata title starts with the understanding that from the moment the building plan is registered, there is legislation, regulations and, from the body corporate, by-laws that need to be observed. Basically, the owner of a lot, that is, a dwelling that can include designated parking spaces, has control over their lot, apart from common areas. These typically include stairwells, driveways, recreational areas such as a pool or tennis court, lawns and gardens outside their lot and other areas managed by the body corporate.
Enforcing By-laws Not the Role of Professional Management
Many bodies corporate or Councils as they are referred to in some states, engage professional strata management companies to look after their operational responsibilities. WA Strata Management specialises in providing these services across Western Australia for residential and commercial strata schemes. While professional strata managers have a wide range of duties to perform on behalf of the Council, enforcing their by-laws is not one of them.
This is where it is important to know and understand the by-laws for the particular building where a person is going to live. A good example of the problems this lack of knowledge can cause is also one of the most common issues that end up in the courts. A by-law may state quite firmly that no pets of any description are allowed to be kept by occupiers without written permission of the body corporate or Council. If a person doesn’t know, or ignores this by-law, and brings home a dog or cat, for example, a notice to remove the pet will most likely be issued.
Proactive Councils Could Limit By-law Breaches
Naturally, this is the kind of situation that evokes strong opinions and emotions for all quarters, and can result in friendships with neighbours ending in bitterness. For the Council representing all the owners, it can also result in considerable cost if the pet owners decide to dig in their heels and ignore the notice. The end result is that owners who do not want pets in the complex are incurring legal costs to defend their position.
With increasing numbers of these types of issues ending up in court, it is becoming more difficult to have a blanket ban on pets. Often, each scenario is increasingly being judged on a case-by-case basis. Having a proactive body corporate that acts immediately to inform new residents of the by-laws is one step that could be taken to avoid these expensive and emotional situations.
Even the best strata management company cannot solve these problems, so it is important that residents understand their agreements and responsibilities. WA Strata Management thoroughly trains their strata managers to ensure they don’t get caught in the middle of these disputes. Their website at www.wastrata.com has some information and downloadable guides to living in strata situations. The best way to avoid all this expense and unpleasantness is to be fully informed.