By Tim Sheehan
I don’t live in a body corporate at the moment, but I do live in a tiny community. It consists of 5 members: me, my wife, Elizabeth, and our three kids – Emma, Gerard and William. In our community Elizabeth and I are on the executive committee, and my kids are the lot owners – but they are without voting rights as they don’t pay their body corporate levies on time.
Our community has a contentious issue currently before the committee. My kids are all over me to get them a dog. They think it would be great. They really don’t know why it would be great, but they know it would improve their quality of life. They would love it and play with it. I don’t doubt that for a moment.
However, what the 3 lot owners in favour of the dog don’t consider is the impact of the dog on the other 2 lot owners. It is the other 2 lot owners who have to pay for the purchase and upkeep of the dog. We have to do the cleaning up. We have to get up at night when it is a puppy. We have to find a place for it to stay when the community goes on holiday. Elizabeth has to keep the dog entertained while the other members of our body corporate are at school or at work.
After careful consideration our community decided that pets where not for us at the moment. We voted down the motion for dogs. Our decision was not well received by the other lot owners. However, they have to live with our decision.
Who is right? The “pro-dog” majority or the “no dog for the moment” minority? The answer is “neither”, but a decision had to be made.
The Sheehan’s having a dog is an issue that was easy to deal with because of the undemocratic nature of our decision making – parents with power. In the democratic body corporate/owners corporation environment, the dog issue is not so easy to resolve, because the decision makers have diverse views.
Recently, SSKB produced two articles relating to pets in strata schemes (these can be viewed on our website) and it’s very clear that there are some strong views associated with pets.
These kinds of issues and arguments are difficult as there is no clear right or wrong, just neighbours with possibly diverse personal views.
The important thing for members of the community to remember is that once the rules are decided all owners need to work within these and comply until such a time that they might change again. Being a proactive member within your community and voting in AGM’s or being part of the committee will allow you to get more involved in the decision making process.
SSKB Community Managers look after communities with many different positions on the issues of living together – the keeping of pets is only the start. Parking is another contentious point. Some communities allow open use of visitor parking, some tow religiously; some deal with smoking, others have blanket bans; some have active committees trying to increase the collective value, some are happy just to keep levies down.
The Community Manager’s role is to assist the committee in enforcing the rules of the community. As an example, we are neither pro pet nor anti pet – we are focused instead on providing owners with the information they need to make the best possible decisions.
Another example of a contentious community issue is how the committee makes the important decisions in relation to over-due contributions. Some committees allow discount, some don’t. Some go straight to court, others allow repayment plans. In these situations we have a dedicated Levy Management team who can look after the diverse needs of different bodies corporate and owners corporations.
These sometimes difficult decisions are all made by the committee and carried out by our Community Managers to best meet the varied needs of strata communities around Australia. SSKB has a range of specialised teams to deal with the thousands of queries relating to strata living. We have a Client Care Team, a Client Financials Team, and a Levy management Team – these are all in addition to our dedicated Community Managers and Assistants.
Our Community Managers help to make a positive difference in the lives of our lot owners everyday through their support, knowledge and industry expertise. Recently, some of our CM’s have made a difference by helping their communities through a range of issues including building defect litigation, electricity problems, insurance issues and levy management just to name a few. If you are having any issues, please don’t hesitate to contact your Community Manager – there is no problem to small or too big.