Roundup: The buck doesn’t stop here … or there


I should really call this week’s roundup the “runaroundup”, considering the way various government departments have had me pinging around like a pinball.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Fair Trading if the now (in)famous Baxter the dog case – in which a Tribunal member decreed that a “no pets” by-law was invalid – created a precedent for future tribunals.

“We don’t comment on NCAT decisions,” said a spokesperson from the department of Innovation, Better Regulation and Shorter Departmental Titles. “You’ll have to speak to NCAT.”

So off my weary fingers trudged to dial the Tribunal’s media people, knowing what the response would be.

“Love to help, old chap, but this is a Fair Trading issue,” said a friendly but singularly unhelpful ministerial mouthpiece.

‘They say it’s you,” I replied, unsurprised.

“Nope. Strata.  Definitely them,” said MM.

“Look,” I say. “Can we just short-circuit this and you tell me where I can get a definitive decision?”

“Hmmm,” said the sympathetic media person. “Probably best to talk to a lawyer.”

And this week I get that sense of déjà vu all over again. A well-informed reader has cast doubt on my assertion that we won’t see the new Airbnb laws until after the state election.

Off I go to Fair Trading to ask what the likely timescale for the new laws is. Even I am surprised when the response is, “this isn’t us, it’s Finance.”


“OK,” I shrug electronically, emailing the link they have kindly provided. “Hello, Finance.  What’s the story?”

“Huh?!?  This is Fair Trading’s baby …”

[To be fair, they did call me back the next day and you can read their response HERE.]

But all of this reminds me of the time many years ago when I wrote (probably incorrectly, to be honest) that Fair Trading and the Tribunal (then the CTTT) were basically the same thing.

A very angry Tribunal flack called me up and berated me, demanding an immediate retraction.

I said, “Mate, dial your helpline …”, knowing that the message said “The CTTT helpline is currently unavailable.  Please direct your inquiries to Fair Trading.”

Sometimes it’s good to be right, especially when you’re wrong.

One place you won’t get the runaround is on the Flat Chat Forum, even for some of the tricky questions we’ve encountered this week.

  • What do you do about a noisy neighbour, who bangs on the bathroom wall every time you have a shower, and when the stink from their flat is wafting into yours? Is there any point in pursuing someone through the Tribunal when there are clearly mental health issues. And if not, what options do you have? That’s HERE.
  • Can a motion on the agenda of a general meeting be lodged anonymously? And does the secretary have to give owners notice that the AGM is coming up so they can make submissions? That’s HERE.
  • Is it better to rent out a whole flat or individual rooms (and we’re not talking about Airbnb)? And if you do, when does your residential let officially become a boarding house? That’s HERE.
  • An old question gets a new rev-up when a Flatchatter asks exactly what hoops have to be jumped through to covert a unit block’s loft to additional living space. That’s HERE.
  • Who pays for a general meeting to approve renovations? And do you really need a full meeting anyway? That’s HERE.

As ever, by the time you read this ther will be more answers to some of these questions .. and more questions for us all to ponder, on the Flat Chat Forum.

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