WEL­COME TO HELL, NEIGH­BOUR

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS | PERSONAL WEALTH - FRANK HIGGINSON

TRIVIA ques­tion: Which French philoso­pher and play­wright wrote the line: “Hell is other peo­ple”?

An­swer: No idea, but odds are he lived in an apart­ment build­ing.

Queenslanders are mov­ing out of their sub­ur­ban homes and into apart­ment com­plexes in record num­bers. Their neigh­bours, once a friendly wave across the back fence, are now the width of a gyprock wall away.

And that can make for all sorts of ten­sion.

The say­ing goes that most com­plaints in unit build­ings are about crap: Chil­dren. Renters. An­i­mals. Park­ing.

And if hell is other peo­ple, it’s noth­ing com­pared to other peo­ple’s kids.

Af­ter a big day at school the lit­tle crit­ters still have en­ergy to burn. Rid­ing bikes and scoot­ers, swim­ming in the pool, throw­ing balls at fences, gen­er­ally mak­ing noise and dis­turb­ing the peace.

But when the noise isn’t in­side their own town­house (and only an­noy­ing their di- rect neigh­bours) it can get on the nerves of other res­i­dents as well. So what rights do other res­i­dents have when lit­tle Johnny and Jane are well into their sec­ond hour of Marco Polo in the swim­ming pool?

To be able to take any ac­tion, res­i­dents have to show that any noise is an un­rea­son­able in­ter­fer­ence. The rel­e­vant word is “un­rea­son­able”. An­other way to look at it is: con­duct that in­ter­feres “rea­son­ably” is al­lowed.

What’s the dif­fer­ence? It’s a ques­tion of fact and de­gree.

The best anal­ogy is to pre­tend you’re not liv­ing in a body cor­po­rate and the con- duct you’re com­plain­ing about is com­ing from the next door neigh­bour in a sub­ur­ban street. Could you do any­thing about it?

Yes, peo­ple in apart­ment blocks live closer to their neigh­bours. But if there are kids play­ing in the street in front of my house there’s very lit­tle I can do about it.

And that is the same re­al­ity in bod­ies cor­po­rate.

(Ac­tual an­swer: Jean-Paul Sartre, ob­vi­ously. Do I look like a com­plete philis­tine?) Frank Higginson is a part­ner at Hynes Le­gal and spe­cialises in body cor­po­rate law and man­age­ment rights

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