Strata FAQ: What About Precedents? – Victoria


Each edition we will be taking a frequently asked question received by our community managers and share them with you. This is part of our commitment to providing education and support for body corporate and owners corporation committees across Australia.

If you have a question that you’d like to see featured here, then let your community manager know. We’d love to hear from you.

Question:

I have recently bought a unit in that has a parking space under the building.

This parking space has an opening but not a garage door. I’d like to add a garage door like I’ve seen two other unit owners do, but when I applied for permission it was refused.

I asked the reason because as I see it, a precedent had already been set. I was told the other owners had put the garage doors in without permission many years ago so they have just let them stay.

I also asked permission to put in a split system air conditioner in but was also refused.

Several units in the building already have air conditioning units so once again a precedent has been set.

They committee told me the reason why they were refusing permission is that with several air conditions already installed, one more would make it too noisy.

What can I do?

Answer:

The best way to handle this type of situation is always, in the first instance, through communication.

While you may not have direct access to your committee, express your concerns politely in writing and request to meet with a representative of the Committee to discuss it in person. This may provide you the opportunity either attend an upcoming Committee Meeting, or to meet at the property to look at the issue and discuss both yours and the Committee’s concerns together.

It will ensure that the sharing of information is as clear as possible. For example, the Committee may currently have an action against the other owners which they haven’t advised you of; or perhaps the information you provided on your air-conditioning unit wasn’t comprehensive or clear.

By taking the time to try and talk about your concerns and application, you give yourself the best opportunity to avoid any extra angst, confusion, and conflict.

If however a genuine attempt at communication is unsuccessful or ignored, then there is a prescribed dispute resolution process outlined in the Model Rules, which includes the following steps:
1. You must prepare a written complaint.
2. You must advise the elected grievance committee.
3. The grievance committee must then arrange for a meeting of all relevant parties – i.e. you and a representative of the OC Committee –  within 14 business days

If after this process you are still unable to come to a satisfactory resolution on the matter, you are entitled to lodge an application with VCAT for an independent arbitrator to review and order on the matter. Keep in mind that once this order is made, however, all parties are obliged to follow such an order.



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