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Strata communities generally have either a formal committee, or at least a group of active residents who take on the task of resolving problems that invariably occur in their Owners Corporation. If the strata complex does not have an experienced strata specialist in place, problems can arise if the owners’ committee can not (or will not) agree to deal effectively with such problems.
Unfortunately it is a fact of life that complaints can occur, and managers and committees must have policies and procedures in place to manage and resolve such complaints and disputes.
Disputes within an Owners Corporation are far more common than many people realise. Complaints occur for a number of reasons, most generally involving vehicle parking and noise, however it is impossible to predict the issues that can arise and cause problems. And when nobody is prepared to act to resolve the problem… it generally escalates. This is where the experience and skills of a strata specialist can be invaluable in calming the situation and ensuring that the needs of all residents are heard and communicated .
A strata specialist will initially recommend that basic communication is common sense. Sometimes residents who fail to obey the rules sometimes simply do not know the rules. As a starting point, your committee should ensure that all lot owners and tenants are provided a copy of the Owners Corporation rules. As a follow-up, the committee should encourage neighbours to talk about their concerns to resolve disputes.
If this strategy fails, then the strata specialist will know how to take communication to the next step, which can be arranging for mediation or conciliation, made in good faith by all parties, or if all else fails, applying to VCAT to make a legally binding decision about how the dispute is to be settled.

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How to deal with smoking neighbours

There is nothing worse for non-smokers than inhaling the waft of second-hand smoke from someone’s cigarette. And it can seriously affect your lifestyle in apartment living, as well as your health.
Currently, Victorian laws only allow Owners Corporations to make rules that completely ban smoking in common areas such as shared courtyards. Smoke emanating from private property can be more difficult to control for the Owners Corporation.
As owners are still permitted to smoke on their private property and consequently, it can be difficult to rule against them even if their second-hand smoke is entering common property.
Notwithstanding, the Victorian Owners Corporation Regulations 2007 (Model Rule 1.1) stipulates “A lot owner or occupier must not use the lot, or permit it to be used, so as to cause a hazard to the health, safety and security of an owner, occupier, or user of another lot”.
On that basis, your Owners Corporation Manager could reasonably assess that any smoke emanating from private property has exposed you to second-hand smoke, which represents a health hazard to you and therefore placing the other owner in breach of this regulation.
The best process is to try to raise this issue with your neighbour and come to a resolution amicably.
If this fails or is not possible, check that your Owners Corporation rules contain Model Rule 1.1, then you may lodge a formal complaint with the Owners Corporation in relation to their alleged breach of the Model Rules.
Your complaint should be on a Formal Complaint form and outline the alleged breach, noting that your health is being negatively impacted.
You may also request that your Owners Corporation creates a specific rule about smoking to be banned on Common Property. This will require a special resolution.

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Owners Corporation Access to Apartments

25 Aug 2023

If our doors are lot property, can the owners corporation force owners to change to a registered key system?
We don’t want the owners corporation to have unauthorised access to our lot.

Our owners corporation is forcing all lot owners to change their lot door locks. The new system has a registered key, and the owners corporation will have access to that key system.

Are the doors lot property or common property? If they are lot property, can the owners corporation demand this?

We do not want the owners corporation to have unauthorised access to our apartment.

If access to your lot is required, the owners corporation must give you a Notice of Entry under the Act.

The owners corporation cannot force owners to update the door locks to a registered lock system.

Assuming the locks are private property, the owners corporation doesn’t have the right to change locks or force migration to a registered key system (regardless of whether or not they pass a special resolution).

The owners corporation has no authority to request or hold any keys to your private property. If access to your lot is needed, the owners corporation is obligated to provide you with a Notice of Entry as required by the Act, ensuring your privacy and rights as a property owner are respected.

Additionally, if your owners corporation has implemented a registered key system to enhance the overall security of the building, it is necessary to have a registered installer cut your key. In the event of a security breach, it is advisable to have a registered installer replace the hardware, as a regular locksmith cannot duplicate your apartment key. It’s important

to note that the owners corporation manager, chairperson, or any committee member is not permitted to possess copies of keys to your private property.


Ali Kaymakam | MBCM Strata Specialists Craigieburn