It might be the economy, the prospect of a carbon tax, or just a full moon but it seems the time is right for full onset strata rage.
Our shelves are full of cases of owners behaving badly, but lately it’s getting a bit dangerous. In one case we are handling, an argument about parking has got way out of control amidst the background of one owner wanting to bring the common property up to grade and the other preferring austerity measures only just being embraced by certain European governments.
Over the weekend it culminated with one owner hurling bricks at the other in this two-lot development and ‘yelling like a patient in a mental institution’. They are off to the local court for apprehended violence orders against each other. Keeping their distance under these orders will be difficult given that they share a dividing wall.
Nowhere is the intensity of strata rage more acute than in a two-lot development. If unit entitlements are equal there is a stalemate. If one has more entitlements than the other, the relationship is complicated by a sense of unequal bargaining power. Neither is ideal.
Two packs form roughly the majority of strata lots in this country, yet they are the most under serviced by strata professionals. Serving two is just uneconomical.
And so as this commercially unappealing majority of our sector slugs it out, it falls to the lawyers and the community justice centers’ to combat strata rage. It pains me to turn to government for a solution. Some say compulsory sinking funds are the way to avoid these ugly disputes. I say a standard or minimum benchmark sum that a small scheme should contribute each year to its sinking fund, perhaps expressed as a percentage of the buildings value might better inform the decision making of co–owners and avoid some of the disputes we are seeing between people with different abilities to contribute to upgrades when the property has been neglected for too long.