Recently, the Queensland Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management released an article which re-visited the issue of ‘behavioural management’ in strata schemes during Schoolies.
This is a time of year when apartment blocks and high-rises (particularly those on the Gold Coast) are flooded with young graduates, who are predominantly there for one reason, to party.
While high occupancy rates maybe a welcome financial benefit for owner investors, the consequences that often come hand in hand are sadly not. Without pigeon-holing all schoolies, in the past, the clean up and damage bill has often well outweighed the benefits. Ripped lounges, stained carpets, chipped walls and disruptive behaviour is something that no owner wants to deal with.
Aside from this, there is a more serious issue of concern. Sadly, the annual influx of school leavers has resulted in a number of fatal accidents and falls from high-rise balconies.
Throughout Schoolies, balancing the commercial interests of owner investors against the safety interests of persons enjoying the lots and common property can present great challenges.
It has been suggested that an easy solution would be to just the lock off all balcony access to prevent any further falls. While this may seem rational in theory, such a drastic measure is easier said than done. As stated by the Queensland Commissioner, “While a body corporate has control over the common property, it cannot unilaterally take action, such as locking doors to restrict access to areas within a lot.”
Instead, the body corporate may wish to put forward a proposal to owners individually about how best to regulate use of balcony areas and ensure safety during Schoolies season.
What also must be remembered, is by-laws may not discriminate between types of occupiers. For example, a body corporate cannot prevent a schoolie from using parts of common property that other occupiers are entitled to use and for which there is no exclusive use by-law. Balancing the competing principles is difficult.
As we approach Schoolies, it’s important to remain well informed with your rights and responsibilities as a lot owner.