Find­ing sanc­tu­ary from the vil­lage idiot

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

THERE’S a say­ing that ev­ery vil­lage has its idiot, and that ap­plies to ver­ti­cal vil­lages as well. It’s heart­en­ing to know that as we stumble through our days most peo­ple we en­counter are rea­son­able hu­man be­ings: the 99.9 per cent who are con­sid­er­ate and kind, or at the very least, tol­er­a­ble. But then there are the 0.1 per­centers…

The nui­sance owner is an oc­ca­sional fact of life in many unit build­ings.

They com­plain a lot. About ev­ery­thing.

They have the chair of the com­mit­tee, the other com­mit­tee mem­bers and the strata man­ager on speed dial and the @ sym­bol on their key­board has worn thin from all the emails they have sent. In some cases, dozens of threat­en­ing emails de­mand­ing ac­tion over one is­sue or other that has their fancy that par­tic­u­lar day. A body cor­po­rate (like any­one re­ally) is en­ti­tled to ex­pect com­mu­ni­ca­tions to be rea­son­able, re­spect­ful, con­struc­tive, and not a nui­sance. So there are ways to pro­tect your­self against a nui­sance owner who is de­ter­mined to mount a one-per­son email war against neigh­bours.

Ev­ery body cor­po­rate should have a by-law that re­quires all com­mu­ni­ca­tions be rea­son­able and not a nui­sance. That pro­vides ev­ery­one with a clear ex­pec­ta­tion of what is ac­cept­able be­hav­iour. In one no­to­ri­ous case, an owner was pep­per­ing the com­mit­tee with so many bel­liger­ent emails on a daily ba­sis that a rul­ing was sought through the Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice. The owner was or­dered to re­strict his com­muni- cations to once a week, and that had to be through a let­ter sent via Aus­tralia Post, be no longer than two pages and a max­i­mum of 1000 words.

Most peo­ple learn how to get on with oth­ers when they’re at kin­der­garten: be con­sid­er­ate of those around you, play nicely, share your toys, don’t pick your nose. Oc­ca­sion­ally the lessons don’t stick. Hav­ing a by-law to pro­tect against nui­sance com­mu­ni­ca­tions is at least one way to keep the idiots in check. Frank Hig­gin­son is a part­ner at Hynes Le­gal and spe­cialises in body cor­po­rate law and man­age­ment rights.

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