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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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Modernising Owners Corporation Management: A Practical Guide to Smart Solutions

30 Jan 2024

In today's rapidly evolving real estate landscape, Owners Corporation management is witnessing a transformation fuelled by smart technologies. From practical strategies that boost efficiency, build community harmony, to meeting the changing needs of property owners. Staying ahead of the curve is vital for success in the evolving property management industry.
Smart Technology Integration
Exploring the potential of smart technologies is essential for an Owners Corporations business looking to optimise their management processes. Automated building systems and digital communication platforms can revolutionise the way operations are handled, offering efficiency and convenience. Incorporating smart security systems and energy-efficient solutions, not only improves property management but also contributes to a more sustainable and cost-effective approach.
Data Analytics for Informed Decision-Making
Data analytics is emerging as a powerful tool for Owners Corporation management. By emphasising its importance in making informed decisions related to budgeting, maintenance planning, and community engagement, stakeholders can unlock valuable insights. Analytics tools facilitate the prediction and prevention of potential issues, enabling a more proactive and strategic approach to property management.
Sustainability Initiatives
With an increasing focus on sustainability, Owners Corporations are embracing green building practices, energy-efficient upgrades, and waste reduction programs. This not only aligns with environmental consciousness but also brings about financial benefits in the long run. Exploring and implementing sustainable initiatives is a key step towards responsible and forward-thinking management.
Community Engagement Strategies
Enhancing community engagement is vital for fostering a sense of belonging among residents. This involves creative approaches such as establishing online forums, social media groups and organising community events.
Remote Management Solutions
The growing trend of remote work has implications in our industry. With the adoption of cutting-edge tools such as virtual meeting platforms and digital document management systems, designed to seamlessly facilitate tasks from any location. By embracing these remote management solutions, we not only acknowledge the evolving nature of work but also position ourselves to effectively navigate the complexities of property management in an environment where flexibility and adaptability are most important.
Adapting to Legislative Changes
Navigating the ever-changing legal landscape is crucial. Staying informed about legislative updates and providing practical guidance on navigating regulatory changes. Ensuring compliance in an evolving legal environment is essential for the long-term success and stability of Owners Corporation management.
The integration of smart technologies, data analytics, sustainability initiatives, community engagement strategies, remote management solutions, and adapting to legislative changes collectively form a roadmap for modern Owners Corporation management. By embracing these elements, we allow ourselves not only to stay relevant but also lead the way in creating efficient, sustainable, and vibrant communities for residents.