Double trouble in disaster duplex


Ask any strata manager what the worst job in their world is and they will tell you it’s not the massive multi-block monster with investors, owner residents and tenants, at each other’s throats and at war with a dysfunctional committee.

No, it’s a duplex where one owner wants everything done their way and the other just wants a fair crack of the whip. The income they can generate from a two-unit scheme just isn’t worth the hassle and often personal abuse they have to endure.

When Flat Chatter Hamish bought into a converted duplex a couple of years ago he found the original owner acted as if it was still her building. (You can read the original post HERE).

The sinking and admin funds were empty, common property gardens were fenced off for private use and urgent repairs were neglected, causing damp and mould in Hamish’s unit.

Getting nowhere with the original owner, Hamish went to the NSW Civil Administration Tribunal (NCAT) and had a strata manager appointed to take over the running of the Owners Corp.

But now the strata manager says she isn’t paid enough to handle all the disputes and Hamish is left high and dry (or, rather, damp).

Statutorily appointed strata managers have absolute power in strata schemes and the most common complaint is that they enforce the laws too strictly, regardless of the financial burden that places on owners.

So a do-nothing strata manager has to be considered part of the problem, rather than the solution.

What can Hamish do?  Firstly, he needs to tell the strata manager that she has professional responsibilities that she can’t simply file in the too-hard basket.

And if she won’t do the basics, especially organise the obligatory repair and maintenance of the building, she should resign or face action at Fair Trading.

Failing that, as an owner Hamish can take the Owners Corp – represented by the strata manager – to NCAT and ask for orders forcing them to fulfil their legal requirements to maintain and repair the building.

Now, the special levies or a loan necessary to pay for repairs will make a hole in Hamish’s bank account, as well as his sole neighbour’s.  And that will irretrievably end any residual possibility of good neighbourly relations.

But that has to be better than being sold a half share of a building then being treated worse than a tenant.

There’s a lot more of this on the Flat Chat Forum.

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