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Dealing with Conflict in Strata

NSW strata conflict resolution can be tricky, but it’s a necessary skill as issues within strata schemes are inevitable at times. Each building or complex will most likely have a diverse group of owners and tenants who may vary in stages of life, cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic status, spending habits, standard of living expectations and ethics. This can often lead to differing opinions about matters relating to the building they all own in together. These matters may include general maintenance and appearance within the common areas of the complex, noise levels,keeping of pets, visitor parking restrictions, owner renovations that could affect the structural integrity of the building, smoking and various other issues which may be added as by-laws.

A major factor mentioned previously that has the potential to lead to conflict within a strata scheme is a difference in cultural background. According to the New South WalesGovernment, the state of NSW is the most broadly multicultural community in Australia. According to the 2016 Census, over 27.6 per cent of NSW residents were born overseas. As a result, those residing in the state speak more than 275 different languages, practice 144 different religions.Along with the multicultural nature of communities living in NSW, research also suggests that more than 60 per cent of those renting are under the age of 35 and the average age of the home buyers is also increasing, especially in NSW as compared to other Australian states. These statistics reveal the diversity of the NSW population in terms of life, culture & income.These can all cause disagreements when viewing financial or maintenance standards and ethics within a strata scheme.

Although some conflicts can be mediated where an agreement is reached between two opposing parties, every well-managed strata scheme has its non-negotiables that need to be met. These non-negotiables include:

  • Appointing a licensed and experienced strata manager.
  • Holding an Annual General Meeting (AGM) each year with a quorum being achieved.
  • Electing a strata committee whose members play an active role in the management of their strata scheme by supporting owners and the strata manager.
  • Obtaining regular safety reports.
  • Arranging an annual audit.
  • Obtaining a building valuation at least once every five years.
  • Matching your Capital Works Fund levies to the Capital Works Fund Forecast for expenditure.
  • Arranging an approved policy for repairs with delegation provided to the strata manager of at least $1,000.
  • Nominating approved trades in each repairs category (plumbing, handyman, electrical, security and locksmith) which will reduce strata committee workload on minor matters.
  • Appointing an engineer to scope and project manage any non-standard repairs over $25,000 for major matters.

If there is a point of disagreement or conflict which falls outside the scope of non-negotiables, then the issue needs to be discussed and resolved. NSW strata conflict resolution can be achieved through the owners and/or tenants coming to an agreement themselves, the strata manager providing independent and fair advice on the matter or the matter being referred to the Office of Fair Trading for mediation or determination. The aim is to come a resolution between the parties involved first.

When dealing directly with conflict, it’s important to stay calm, listen to the other person and understand the other person’s perspective. It’s important to find or create commonalities between yourself and other person to assist with the conversation. When speaking, state your case tactfully, depersonalize your comments and only discuss the issue at hand. Avoid the blame game, focus on what can be done to solve the problem instead of the problem itself and try to be as impartial and diplomatic as possible. Lastly, once the majority of owners and committee membershave voted on a particular decision, accept the decision and move on.

NSW strata conflict resolution is a vital part of a strata manager’s ability to add value to your strata scheme. As a result, it’s important to ensure that the strata manager has the appropriate skills in this area in order to guide and advise all parties involved to come to an appropriate conclusion.

 This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice