Finding sanctuary from the village idiot
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.