A bedroom-based trout farm, a horse kept in an apartment, and an owners’ corporation deadlocked over taking action against a nudist neighbour – these are just a few of the strangest complaints received by the Office of Fair Trading about strata living in NSW.
Releasing a list of the Top 10 complaints from NSW strata title residents, Minister for Fair Trading Virginia Judge said disputes ranged from car parking to animal keeping.
“On the whole, the reasons for most disagreements between neighbours, owners and owners’ corporations are what people might reasonably expect,” Ms Judge said.
NSW introduced strata laws in 1961 – the first jurisdiction to do so in the world. Under these laws, residents, owners and owners’ corporations must attempt mediation to settle disputes.
“Fair Trading receives approximately 1,300 mediation applications from NSW’s 65,000 strata schemes each year,” Ms Judge said.
“I’m pleased to say that while applications increased by 10 per cent in 2008, Fair Trading successfully mediated 70 per cent of those cases, with the remainder adjudicated by the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal based on documentation provided by the parties.
“However, some complaints Fair Trading investigates defy belief.
“Can you imagine discovering that the reason water was leaking into your property from the unit above was that your neighbour was breeding trout in an above-ground swimming pool?
“Keeping pets without permission is the third most-complained about issue – but using a small inner-city strata block as a horse stable is not only thoughtless, it’s cruel.”
Ms Judge said on occasion, Fair Trading had to intervene when strata communities could not settle group disputes.
“In one case, an owners’ meeting was divided along gender lines over whether to take action against a female resident who watered the garden naked,” she said.
“After heated discussions, the men were overruled in the interests of community harmony, and action was taken against the woman to ensure she remained clothed while at all times on common property.
“Strata schemes are very popular in NSW, and suit many people. However, I urge people to visit Fair Trading’s website at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au and read the handy brochure, Buying into a strata scheme? before they sign on the dotted line.”
The Top 10 Strata Complaints are:
1. Noisy neighbours
2. Water penetration repairs taking too long
3. People keeping pets without permission
4. Owners removing carpet which leads to noise disturbance
5. People being refused permission to keep pets
6. Owners complaining about majority decisions that allegedly victimise them
7. The owners coporation complaining of harassment by an owner who refuses to accept majority decisions
8. Car parking disputes
9. Owners objecting to increases in levies
10. People renovating common property without permission