OK, we need to talk. It's not you, it's me...
I apologise for quoting Seinfeld to start this article however many Strata Committees complain about one or two members of their Committee who have difficulties getting on with their neighbours (fellow Committee members).
At the lowest level, having one or two difficult owners within your community (and who insist on joining the Strata Committee as well) can be annoying and frustrating for positive, progressive Strata Committee members. In many cases, some good Strata Committee members will resign from the Strata Committee once key projects are completed (or they have had enough of the other difficult members). At the extreme level, difficult owners can intimidate other owners, create a toxic culture within the strata and disrupt important projects so that they are left stalled for many years.
In most cases, a Strata building is a melting pot of ages, cultures, financial positions and expectations on living standards and this must always be taken into consideration. Strata Managers spend at least 50% of their time managing difficult situations within a Strata building caused by owner disputes.
So what can you do about it?
In our experience, ensuring a fair balance of views is heard after receiving advice from the Strata Manager, with the majority view of the owners prevailing on each decision - is the correct way to make decisions at your scheme. So if you are a Strata of ten lots being held back by one 'condo commando' objecting to every proposal for maintenance, you will need to ensure that the Strata Committee has enough owners at their meeting and ready to vote to facilitate decisions and action for your strata.
Rule number one when dealing with bullies is that if you stand up to them, they back down. Strata is no different. By encouraging owners to attend meetings and become involved in the Strata, this will ensure that your owners are fairly represented and your building meets their practical and legal obligations to best enhance property values and community enjoyment.
Over time, by improving your asset (the building) and meeting your legal obligations by repairing and maintaining common property, this will improve sentiment amongst the owners of your Strata. This then leads to greater owner engagement which in turn defuses the hostile situation within your strata community. Please be warned, this can take years to improve and can sometimes get worse before it improves.
Our team at The Strata Collective has seen the turn-around of countless hostile Owners Corporations into functioning Strata Schemes by following this simple formula. And the formula again is:
- Ensure good owner participation
- Owners and the Strata Committee are acting on the advice from the Strata Manager and trusted tradespeople / consultants
- Taking decisions when required after hearing a balance of owners' viewsKeeping all owners informed of the decisions via good communication
In the most extreme examples, if an Owners Corporation is not meeting the legal obligations of a Strata Scheme and if they are unable to make the decisions required to meet their legal obligations, a member of the Owners Corporation should consider applying to the NCAT for a compulsory Strata Manager.