Monthly Archives: December 2014

Be strata safety conscious but there’s no need to lock up the outdoor furniture

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c hair

Standing on the Manly Corso, having finished my morning ocean swim, I was asked ‘a quick strata question.’ The new committee at my swimming friend’s building had the pool furniture removed and locked away due to ‘concerns about safety.’

Having been some time since the last reported case of mass poolside impaling’s on poor quality Balinese deck chairs, I advised my friend that I thought it would be ok to bring back the furniture. If not happy to assume that risk, I further advised the committee to pull down the building in case someone fell from one of the balconies.

Hysteria and bizarre thinking about risk is common in strata land. Paradoxically, sensible measures and recommendations to promote safety about common property like asbestos reports and fire safety checks are often dismissed as ‘over the top.’ The truth is that locking up the furniture doesn’t cost anything; removing asbestos and attending to fire orders does.

Safety is of course important and because volunteers manage common property, strata schemes are by law obliged to have public risk insurance – something not compulsory for suburban houses.

Risk management involves balancing the likelihood of harm and the seriousness of injury against the cost and inconvenience of protection. Bad things do happen in apartment buildings, pool furniture is not likely to be the cause.

In strata warfare – time wounds all heals absent the white knight’s good retreat

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white Knige

My battle scarred and somewhat cynical strata management mentor taught me that in strata warfare; ‘time wounds all heals’. We were practicing in Queensland in the late 80’s where disputes between bodies corporate and their onsite manager raged. In a different time and place, the adage holds true.

When strata tribes go to war and decision making becomes deadlocked or non existent, the authorities will, albeit reluctantly, appoint an independent administrator to run the show while tensions settle and wounds heal. It’s not unlike the state government sacking an unruly local council and installing a firm but fair executive with all the powers of the previously elected.

At first the warring parties within a strata community may be relieved matters have been taken out of their hands. During the administrator’s reign they might even become relaxed and comfortable with the new arrangement; the bins are being emptied, the pools no longer green and the lawns have been cut. But as night follows day, the term of the appointment will end because the strata ruling class won’t have community groups abrogating their right to self-determination. It’s when the benevolent dictatorship ends that old wounds tear apart.

Compulsory appointments seldom contemplate their own end and how power reverts to the people. When the clock strikes midnight on the term of the appointment, there’s no new team, no one mandated to call and chair a meeting, and no one authorised to take over the bank account and pay the bills.

Continuing the warfare analogy, when the white knight takes away sovereign rule and no plan exists for an orderly transition to democracy, all hell is likely to break out and despite good work in the interim, we’re back where we began.

Jimmy put out his bat and told the body corporate what he really thought

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In paying tribute to Phil Hughes in the way so many have by putting out his bat, my friend Jimmy also made a powerful statement of Facebook about living in apartments; ‘Waiting for the body corporate to say something about leaving my gear in the hallway. F@#k them!’

I know nothing about the building in which Jimmy lives but his derisive comment goes to the heart of the way some bodies corporate take matters too seriously and interfere unnecessarily in people’s lives.

When enforcing a by law about no pets, is it really necessary to insist on getting rid of the goldfish?

When considering the application for a seamless glass enclosure of a balcony, is it really necessary to insist on framed glass because seamless glass wasn’t available when other enclosures were made?

When a young family live on the third floor of a three-story walk-up, does it really matter if they sometimes leave their pram in the foyer?

Accidents like the one that took Phil Hughes’ life far too early affect people in the wider community in many different ways. Maybe those of us engaged in bodies corporate might reflect on the tenuous grip we all have on life and worry less about the things that really don’t matter.

#strata #body corporate #putoutyourbat

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