Few if any apartment residents love the idea of by-laws telling them what to do … until a neighbour does something they don’t like and they discover there’s no easy way of stopping them.
You probably think you have too many strata by-laws or rules (in Vic) in your life already but there’s a couple of non-standard examples that, sooner or later, many strata residents will wish they had.
For instance, how do you define a visitor when it comes to visitor parking? We’ve heard of strata schemes where a resident’s girlfriend, boyfriend, parents or grown-up kids take over one of a limited number of visitor parking spaces for entire weekends at a time.
They are not, their hosts would argue, residents therefore they must be visitors. And it’s hard to argue against that when you don’t have a definition of what visitors are.
The same applies to Airbnb guests – are they not visitors too, even if your visitor parking spaces are offered as part of their holiday let deal?
In short, there’s not much you can do you about residents and their guests misusing visitor parking when you can’t give them the definition of a visitor.
However, you are dealing with common property so strata owners can collectively decide what a visitor is and isn’t when it comes to parking.
It could be setting a maximum of two or three hours per day and limiting overnight stays, for instance. Adjust the definition to suit the way your specific building’s parking is used (or misused) and how much parking you have to spare. It’s very much up to the majority of owners to decide.
Generally speaking and setting aside our natural resistance to being told what to do, good by-laws will simply enforce what considerate people would do anyway and provide a mechanism for bringing the selfish and inconsiderate to heel.
Should you have a by-law that tells people who’ve been in the swimming pool to dry off before they get in the lifts?
How about one that forbids residents from playing music on radios or bluetooth players (or even worse, their tinny iPhone speakers) by the pool when other residents are trying to relax?
On a more serious note, how about one that bans any renovation or home handyperson work after, say, 6pm during the week and all day at weekends? Tough cheese, hobby renovators – people are entitled to rest.
Anther handy by-law would include a set of “standing orders” or rules by which meetings should be conducted, and a code of conduct for those who attend.
For those schemes plagued by serial disruptors who shout down fellow committee members, or observers who don’t wait to be invited to speak, it would be handy if the chair had a process for controlling the meeting and sanctioning the misbehaved.
How about if you had a by-law that allowed the chair to propose that the committee votes to name a resident for disrupting a meeting?
That would remove the taint of “naming and shaming” that many strata committee chair bullies employ to silence their critics while letting other owners know how miscreants are misbehaving and interrupting the smooth running of the strata scheme.
A by-law that required residents to recycle their garbage according to the notices near the bins would remind the lazy and the deliberately disruptive to do the right thing.
Believe it or not, there are people on the “spectrum of the credulous” (it has anti-maskers at one end and Q-anon at the other), who think not recycling is an act of rebellion.
It’s great if you live in a unit with a good working gym and you have a personal trainer. But how would you feel if another resident brought their personal trainer and the whole of his or her boot camp into your gym? By-law please!
And every block should have a rule that says you can’t have a barbecue on your balcony that can be smelt by anyone else in the building. Hard to enforce but it might make the beef-burners clean their hotplates occasionally.
Okay, maybe you have enough rules and restrictions in your life. But I’ll bet for every person who groans about the prospect of having any of these ideas applied in their strata scheme, someone else is going “ooh, I wish we had that one!”
Is there a by-law you wish you had – or one you don’t like? Log into the Flat Chat Forum or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.