Strata Schemes can be a microcosm for life. Under strata law, a group of people who would otherwise never associate with one another are required to live together, spend money together, make decisions and cooperate for the greater good, within a strict regulatory framework that many owners are not particularly familiar with.
In the best case scenario, this will result in simple and decisive decision-making, and hassle-free living for residents. However, a badly managed strata scheme can be an utter nightmare for people living in it. On the other side of the equation, it takes just one disgruntled owner to make life difficult for the rest.
Disputes routinely arise where there is disagreement over what the obligations of the strata corporation are, or alternatively what the obligations of an individual owner or owners are. We commonly see these arising as follows:
- Where there is a dispute over common property obligations (or indeed, whether certain property is common property at all).
- Where an owner takes issue with a by-law, proposes a new by-law, or seeks to have an old by-law revoked.
- Where a building defect is negatively impacting the lot of a single owner, and the remaining owners are reluctant to incur expense in a repair from which they gain no (perceived) benefit.
- Where the executive committee is dominated by strong-willed individuals with whom certain other owners take issue.
- Where there are personal disputes between individual owners, who seek to use the mechanisms of strata law to pursue or escalate that dispute.
Fortunately, strata disputes can typically be resolved without costly litigation. However, such resolution is usually reached through the parties gaining a detailed understanding of the rights and obligations of the various interest holders, and this often requires legal advice. For example, what specifically constitutes common property? What is the extent of an owners corporation’s obligation to repair and maintain common property? To what extent must an executive committee act ‘reasonably’ in considering and making by-laws? When will they be deemed to have acted unreasonably? When will an executive committee be considered dysfunctional? When can an executive committee be forcibly replaced? What powers does the NCAT have to resolve disputes? How are these powers generally exercised?
Our team at Atkinson Vinden can advise you on your rights if you find yourself in strata dispute. We have experience advising unit owners, strata corporations, and strata managers of their respective rights, as well as successfully bringing and defending proceedings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
We are also specialists in the area of building disputes involving strata schemes. Recent amendments to the Home Building Act 1989, which applies to strata schemes, make it more difficult for strata schemes to seek compensation for defective building work (and also insurers). As a result, owners corporations need to be more vigilant than ever to enforce their rights. We are often requested to advise on the breach of the implied statutory warranties, the operation of home warranty insurance and to appear in proceedings before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in respect of those issues.
If you require legal assistance or representation in a strata dispute, please contact our team on 9411 4466.