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  • #60003
    amber2121
    Flatchatter

    Hoping you can help. We live in a large complex and when the adjoining unit sold a young couple and a small yappy chihuahua moved in. We have dealt with this small dog barking for months, I finally spoke to the resident in August and she advised that they were “doing their best” to help the dog settle in.

    I finally had enough went nothing changed and submitted a complaint to strata, and at the October meeting they stated their intention to issue a Notice to Comply after the November meeting. Got the November meeting minutes today where they resolved not to issue a Notice.

    I called the strata manager and she said after the warning letter sent to the dog owner they replied saying that seeing as no one else had made a complaint it shouldn’t be an issue, and also said that we had apparently made some noise and it was probably us setting off the dog.

    I know this to be untrue. This dog barks 200+ times per day, whether the tenants are home or not, they NEVER admonish or do any kind of training, when they leave their apartment the dog barks literally 50 or 60 times in quick succession until they are out of sight, and the majority of our time at home we are working on computers. We’ve never had any noise complaints even in our old place.

    When the dog barks it disturbs us from what we are doing and prompts me to see why it might be barking (barks at EVERYONE and EVERYTHING and we are in a very busy complex) and they don’t care how long it barks. It seems to be getting worse, today the tenant is home all day (occasionally hear her say “shush”) but the dog is barking incessantly inside.

    How do we deal with this?? please help.

    • This topic was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by .
Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 27 total)
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  • #60015
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Oh, dear.  The committee has decided to take the “do-nothing” option, and taken the dog-owners’ side because they foolishly believe that will make their lives easier.

    I was going to ask about your by-laws but they are almost irrelevant as there is a section of the Act (158) that refers specifically to animals that have been permitted but prove to be a nuisance.

    158   Order for removal of an animal permitted under by-laws

    (1)  The Tribunal may, on application by an interested person, make an order against a person who is keeping an animal on a lot or common property in accordance with the by-laws for a strata scheme, if the Tribunal considers that the animal causes a nuisance or hazard to the owner or occupier of another lot or unreasonably interferes with the use or enjoyment of another lot or of the common property.

    (2)  The Tribunal may order that the person—

    (a)  cause the animal to be removed from the parcel within a specified time, and be kept away from the parcel, or

    (b)  within a time specified in the order, take such action as, in the opinion of the Tribunal, will terminate the nuisance or hazard or unreasonable interference.

    So, you see that 158 (2)(b) allows the Tribunal to issue an order that sets a time limit for the dog’s behaviour to be moderated.  That means the committee doesn’t need to ask for the dog to be removed in the first instance. The point being, the committee has options and is choosing to take none of them.

    So this is what you could do.  First take a detailed diary of when the noise occurs.  Then get statements from neighbours who have also heard the dog.  And make recordings (on your phone, is easy) of the dog yapping.

    At the same time, you could seek mediation at Fair Trading with a view to either getting the neighbours to agree to take decisive action or (and this would be my preference) take the committee to NCAT under a section 232(2) for failure to exercise its responsibilities.

    Now here’s my question for Flatchatters.  Is there anything the owners can do to stop the dog yapping?  Or is it too late for our little Mexican amigo?

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    #60027
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you so much, Jimmy. It’s doubly frustrating because they have no problem issuing Notices to Comply for other other dog owners and wayward vehicles. But it’s a small dog and downstairs neighbours only have one wall adjacent to any other units (their spare room), so when inside maybe other neighbours can’t hear the dog or aren’t bothered. I am so confrontation-avoidant I dread speaking with other neighbours but I’ll see what I can do.

    The owners (dog owner’s parents) were already breached before anyone moved in due to undertaking noisy renovations on a day different to that approved by the OC, and they left their own dog in the apartment for 3 days with the yappy one and they both barked literally non-stop each day. Owner was called often but still only came back in the afternoons and left again the next day. They’re the ones who babysat the yapper and let it bark on the balcony at 6am on the weekend – while we were asleep of course. And now they are lying saying we are the trigger for the barking?! Infuriating. We live above them, they don’t seem concerned about trying to make an effort given all the noise we COULD be making.

    I have nearly 3 months’ worth of daily diary entries of times/frequency/triggers of the barking, and several videos and audio recordings. I will take more. Our bylaws state that
    “Each lot owner and occupier is absolutely liable to each other lot owner and occupier and their respective guests and invitees, for any unreasonable nuisance, noise or injury to any person or damage to property caused by any Animal brought or kept upon the parcel by the lot owner or occupier or by its invitees.”
    So I guess the OC is choosing to ignore this?? Thank you for the quote from the Act, too, that is very helpful.

    So mediation first may be the way to go? Is there any point contacting Council/ranger as well?

    #60029
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    sorry, I just re-read your post Jimmy, are you saying you’re preferred action would be to take the Committee to NCAT? If so, are they supposed to just issue a Notice to Comply because we’ve complained and documented and they said they would at the last meeting? I guess I’m wondering what the Committee has to take into account (eg does it have to multiple complaints vs one, etc).  Thanks, and sorry if I’m being dense.

    #60032
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    … are you saying you’re preferred action would be to take the Committee to NCAT?

    That’s just a personal preference and not necessarily the best course of action.  You do have the option to take the neighbours to Fair Trading/NCAT yourself.  But if the SC issues a Notice to Comply, it by-passes the mediation stage that you would have to go through.

     

    #60055
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you so much, Jimmy. Good to know that the Notice to Comply bypasses the mediation requirement – I’m assuming this means if the dog owners were to ignore the NTC (ie continue breaching the bylaw) then it can go to NCAT, either myself or the Committee?

    At the building manager’s request I’m emailing the Committee to query their reasoning for not issuing the NTC, a friend advised I should start with honey rather than aggro! And make them realise I’m the reasonable resident, just trying to live peacefully but bylaws are being breached making that difficult.

    I’m still gobsmacked that the dog’s owners are happy to listen to it bark hundreds of times a day…

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    #60057
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Good to know that the Notice to Comply bypasses the mediation requirement – I’m assuming this means if the dog owners were to ignore the NTC (ie continue breaching the bylaw) then it can go to NCAT, either myself or the Committee?

    I’m not 100 per cent sure about this but if the committee or strata manager issues the NTC, they’d be the ones to pursue it at NCAT.  If you took this on yourself, despite an NTC having been issued but not followed up, then you might well still have to go down the mediation route. Hopefully one of our better informed readers can advise.

    And, yes, honey usually works better than vinegar, especially in the long run.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    #60068
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I’m still gobsmacked that the dog’s owners are happy to listen to it bark hundreds of times a day…

    There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.

    #60337
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thanks for all your help Jimmy. Just wanted to provide an update: I emailed all of the strata committee members with a nicely worded letter indicating our disappointment at the decision not to issue a Notice to Comply given the issue was still ongoing, with a dot point list of examples and impact of the barking. Requested a NtC be issued. No response to me directly, but agenda for the next meeting has an item stating that a NtC will be issued due to “continual breaches” of the bylaws.

    Should this go ahead, what can I likely expect and what should be my next steps? Assuming it doesn’t get better, do I just email the Committee before the next meeting? Just want to keep ahead of the issue. Thanks 🙂

    #60351
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    No response to me directly, but agenda for the next meeting has an item stating that a NtC will be issued due to “continual breaches” of the bylaws. Should this go ahead, what can I likely expect and what should be my next steps? Assuming it doesn’t get better, do I just email the Committee before the next meeting?

    Having it on the agenda is essential so it can be discussed and voted on for the NTC to be legal.  Ask if you can attend the meeting and speak to the motion.  If they allow that and someone comes up with some nonsense about issuing a warning first, point out that a Notice to Comply IS a warning. There is no need to issue warnings and they just muddy the waters and delay the resolution of the problem.

    Then all you can do is wait and see if the issue is resolved and if it isn’t within the timescale established in the NTC, press the committee and strata managers to seek orders and penalties at NCAT.

    • This reply was modified 7 months ago by .
    #60446
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you so much for this, Jimmy. (I thought I had replied last week, not sure what happened there). I took your advice; I emailed requesting permission to speak to the motion and got no response. So I just dialled in to the meeting to hope for the best. Glad I did, you were right; they tried to say “just send a warning letter.” I pointed out they had already done that, had already declined to send a NtC last meeting, and as the issue had not improved could they please send a NtC. The strata manager was great, she said yes we should, and the Committee agreed. SM did say it could take a while as they don’t know the dog owner’s name because their parents own the unit and are in contravention of some rule and haven’t provided their tenant details since May. And acknowledged how difficult the owner is over other issues.

    Apart from the delay, my other concern is the SM said it needs to be a breach of bylaw 1 (Noise), where I had requested under the bylaw around keeping of animals. I don’t know if this NtC would satisfy further action being taken under section 158 of the Act if the dog continues to be a nuisance?

    #60452
    tina
    Flatchatter

    The motion at the meeting must refer to a specific by-law because the notice has to refer to a specific by-law.  Here is a copy of a “Notice to comply with a by-law” form I once used.  It’s from the Office of Fair Trading.  The Strata Manager could also send a letter on their own letterhead.

    https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/367841/Notice_to_comply.pdf

    You could help the strata manager by having a friendly chat with the tenant and asking what their name is, what the dog’s name is etc.

    Don’t be afraid to request a mediation session with Fair Trading. I’ve been through it.  It took months.  The other party refused several invitations to attend.  After failure of mediation, we were allowed to go to NCAT.  Our application was successful.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    #60577
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter

    Nice to hear you got your pro-active outcome! As for keeping on the front foot with these matters I remember what a nightclub bouncer told me he does to ensure action and help manage the process: He suggests the ATM approach. ‘Ask them, Tell them, Make them’. Starting friendly and seeking collaboration then becoming a little firmer the further you must go. I’ve applied it since and found it worthwhile. All the best.

    #61458
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Just thought I’d provide an update (and seek further advice). So the NtC was issued in December, the residents+dog were away for nearly 3 weeks over Christmas. Bliss! Not so much since they returned. I thought I’d give it time, have kept a diary for most of the last 2 months and can see that there is some slight changes – several days of the week no barking (dog must be elsewhere) and they’ve put up some balcony screens (dog can still hear activity so makes no difference).

    But no training of the dog, and in fact they don’t even bother to shush it anymore. Nice quiet Sat morning here today, dog has barked 200+ times in the last 2 hours, residents are home.

    It’s listed on next week’s Committee agenda to discuss the issuing of the notice, so I spoke with the strata manager. Apparently the owners feel “picked on” because of this and the previous notices re: their unapproved noisy renovations. Far out. I was willing to let the strata manager deal with it, she’s going to talk to them about other methods (training/bark collar etc) but after this morning I’m so done. Do i just submit an email to the Committee to request going to NCAT? Or just provide confirmation the breach is still happening? They issued the Notice under the noise bylaw, not the keeping of animals bylaw – does this matter??

    Sorry, so stressed 🙁 Thank you.

    #61464
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    The normal process would be that the miscreants would receive a Notice To Comply which may include a deadline for them to comply.

    Failure to abide by the by-law would then normally result in the owners being taken to NCAT by the owners corp/strata manager/committee  who would apply for a penalty to be imposed.  The maximum fine is $220. You might want to keep on top of this as the committee will have to instruct the strata manager to take this to the next stage, which offers another opportunity for dithering and delay.

    If the problem continues after the fine has been issued and paid, the OC can possibly move on to having the dog either removed from the building or effective measures being taken to quell the barking.

    You have to go with your strata manager’s judgement on this as they are likely to be the ones prosecuting the case.  So keep on good terms with them and make sure that when they apply to NCAT (if the NTC is ignored) that they apply for costs.  That not only increases the financial hit on the dog owners but reassures the committee and other owners that strata funds aren’t being “wasted” on “personal disputes” between owners.

    Another reason for acting swiftly and keeping up the momentum on this is that NCAT is currently understaffed, underfunded, overworked and has a backlog of cases. Justice delayed is justice denied.

    And the committee really needs to get moving on getting the strata roll updated, not least because of the pandemic.  And continually receiving several NTCs is just as much an indication the residents refuse to behave properly  with respect for strata law and by-laws as it is a sign of alleged harassment.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by .
    #61467
    amber2121
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you so much for his Jimmy, very much appreciated. Thankfully the strata manager is very sympathetic and we had a lovely long chat as she didn’t know the history, she’s new to our block. There was no deadline as far as I know, as it was under the noise bylaw so it was effective immediately. But it’s been 2 months, long enough! And they’re not taking it seriously, based on things we’ve overheard them say.

    That’s pretty pathetic for a fine amount, not much disincentive. But I’ll email the SM to request NCAT application, assume this would be considered at next meeting (March). You’re right, nothing will happen in a hurry, but I’ll definitely keep on it.

    Once again, thank you so much for your help! And for use of the word “miscreants”, not used often enough these days 🙂

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