Contact Us


Share on Social

Related articles


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.

Read More

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.

Read More

QA Insurance Claim by a Lot Owner

27 May 2022

Question: If a lot owner makes an insurance claim that affects the premium and that lot owner pays a higher portion, what happens when the lot owner leaves? Does the higher premium fall to the next owner of the lot?

Answer: My instinct would be that the purchaser doesn’t inherit that.

That is a spectacularly good question that legislature didn’t think over, nor did I. Excesses relate to a specific claim. So if they’re sort of ‘one offs’, whereas premiums, once they’re increased, probably stay increased. My instinct would be that the purchaser doesn’t inherit that. For liability to run with a lot and to survive transfers, you need the express statement, I think, to that effect, whereas the language of the section we looked at talks about a lot owner causing that increase.

That is an individual person, it doesn’t talk about a lot owner or its successes in title. So it seems to me that what it really implies is that a lot owner, so long as they are, and probably by that definition, they have to be a lot owner for the section to apply to them. If they’re no longer a lot owner. They don’t. I don’t think the purchaser inherits liability, because the section doesn’t say so and the section does seem to put it on the specific person that caused it.

This is a fantastic question. I think where you end up is, that lot owner as the burden of the increase for the currency of their ownership, but upon disposition of the lot, the excess doesn’t change, but the OC picks it up. I think that has to be the answer based on what’s written but it was obviously not something that was considered discreetly.

Tim Graham
Bugden Allen Graham Lawyers