Anarchy rules with ‘optional’ by-laws

Anybody who’s lived in strata for any length of time with have come across control-freak executive committee members who seem to have swallowed the strata Act for breakfast, washed down by the by-laws.

But did you know that strata by-laws are, effectively, optional.  We had a couple of cases on the Flat Chat Forum recently where clear breaches were allowed to slip by without so much as a “no-no” note.

There was an elderly woman whose neighbours parked in front of her garage – where she kept her walking frame – because their 4WD monstrosity was too big for theirs. She had to ask them to move whenever she wanted to go for a walk.

In another case, a reader had a teenage boy constantly and loudly practising his rock drumming in his parents’ garage – away from their townhouse but right across from hers.

Both were clear breaches of the by-laws of these buildings … and both times the executive committees decided to do nothing. Zilch.  Zero. Nada.

In the case of the selfish parkers, some EC members admitted that they too parked on common property so decided it would be hypocritical to issue a Notice to Comply.

The majority on the other EC decided they preferred to keep the peace with the not-so-little drummer boy’s mother who demanded her child’s right to practice his “art”.

Bizarrely, even faced with clear breaches, these ECs were legally allowed to do nothing. Unlike in Queensland and Victoria, the owners corporations of NSW are not obliged to enforce their by-laws.

OK, you could take your neighbour to Fair Trading (that’ll be $75, thank-you) and then have a spin of the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal chocolate wheel. But that’s a lot of grief pursuing something that could be fixed with a strong warning letter.

And this will get interesting when they DO decide to take action.  When you pick and choose which by-laws to enforce, don’t be surprised if someone justifiably claims unfair treatment when you finally do the right thing.

There’s plenty more on this topic on the Flat Chat Forum HERE.

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