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Strata Management

Strata community disputes, how to avoid them

Buying into a strata community can be confusing so it is important to set yourself up for success.

This starts with understanding what you as an owner are responsible for and what is considered common property, reviewing finances and any issues they may be facing. This will save a lot of time and possible frustrations down the track. You can learn all about common property here.

While there are many benefits to living in a strata community, we find disputes typically occur because of conflicting views between owners, close living arrangements in medium and high density living within a strata community. Finding a resolution is important to reserve harmony and co-operation within the scheme.

In strata communities, we find the most common types of disputes are:

  • Noise – Transfer of noise between units, particularly where the acoustic underlay is ineffective
  • Pets – barking dogs, animals on common property
  • Parking – use of visitor bays, parking on common property, parking in unallocated bays
  • Anti-social behaviour

Best practice in dispute resolution

While disputes are bound to arise from time to time, having a clear dispute resolution process helps all parties involved. Here are our best tips to help you with resolving disputes:

  1. Be quick— the issues should be resolved quickly rather than allowing them to escalate.
  2. Be fair— all relevant parties should be consulted so that all sides of the story are taken into account.
  3. Handle it with sensitivity— disputes should, where possible, be resolved in a confidential way to minimise impact.
  4. Be transparent— the procedure should be clear.

Steps to help you resolve a strata community dispute

Step 1: Understand the dispute

Compile and check your facts to help you understand the dispute.

Check the amended Strata Titles Act 1985 (the Act)  and your scheme by-laws to help you understand what is and is not permitted to occur within your scheme.

Step 2: Talk to the other party

Talk to the other party or parties involved about the issue.

Check to see whether your scheme has an internal dispute resolution process set out in the by-laws.

Step 3: Approach the strata company or council of owners

Raise the issue with the strata company or council of owners. If suitable, you can also submit a written request to the strata company so the matter can be put on the agenda for consideration at the next council meeting or general meeting.

Many issues can be considered and decided upon by a resolution of the strata company.

Step 4: Alternative dispute resolution – Mediation

If the dispute remains unresolved, consider alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation.

Step 5: The State Administrative Tribunal

If the dispute remains unresolved, apply to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for a determination

Landgate. Guide to Resolving Disputes. May 2020

Understand when it’s out of your hands

Regardless of your efforts and conflict resolution ability, there might be situations within the strata community where there is no resolution that we can bring to the table. When that’s the case, the matter may need to be taken to be heard at the State Administration Tribunal.

What is the SAT?

The State Administration Tribunal is an independent tribunal that is less formal and has more flexible procedures than those used in traditional courts. Under the reforms, SAT is considered the ‘one-stop-shop’ for all strata disputes.

Learn more about strengthening communication in your strata community here.