Bye-bye to by-laws

When is a by-law not a by-law?  When the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal decides that it doesn’t really matter, that’s when.
Evidence for this is contained in CTTT’s own annual report in which they proudly tell the story of a couple who bought an apartment, then discovered one of their children had a carpet-induced allergy for which the only cure was to lift their wall-to-wall carpet and polish their floorboards.
The new owners either didn’t realise or didn’t care that taking up carpets was against the by-laws so applied to their Executive Committee for permission and, assuming they’d get it, went ahead and gave themselves nice, trendy, shiny non-allergenic wooden floors.
By the time the Owners Corporation said ‘sorry, no, that’s against our by-laws’ the neighbours downstairs could hear all the noise from which the Death Carpet From Hell had previously insulated them.
The Owners Corporation appealed to the CTTT to enforce their by-laws. The adjudicator agreed that there was a noise problem but decreed only that the upstairs people “make sure the floor was covered so the noise did not disturb their neighbours”. They did not, however, order them to reinstate wall-to-wall carpets.
So want are we talking about here?  Rugs?  The trouble with rugs is that they are eminently removable.  Also if the apartment is sold to someone who refuses to cover the floor, the downstairs neighbours have to start the whole process all over again.
There are two things about this that amaze me. Firstly, what happened to the principles of expecting people to read by-laws before they buy homes and supporting the by-laws that are in place if they chose not to?
Then there’s the sense that the CTTT were so proud of this decision to effectively revoke a properly constituted by-law that they chose it as an example of their excellent work and published it in their annual report. Breathtaking!
And before the asthmatics of Australia burn me in effigy, I know these conditions exist and understand that they can be very serious.  I also know that there are half dozen alternative and equally effective solutions that don’t happen to provide the sufferer’s family with cheap, uninsulated polished floorboards.

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