Difficult Neighbour? What to Do in a Strata Setting Dispute
We understand sometimes disputes may arise between neighbours regarding the access and use of common areas of a strata property, and this could create disruptions to your peace. We recently had a matter where there were disputes by neighbours on a fence built by the original developer, which provided exclusive access for our client to a common area.
Photograph by Pablo de Haro
When a dispute on the use of a certain area within a strata property emerges, owners could first refer to the strata plans, you may find the strata plans within your contract for sale documents. The strata plans show what areas belong to each property owner. These should include the area of your own unit/apartment, any car spaces or garage you have and storage area. These areas marked out in your strata plan will be for your private use. You can rely on the strata plan to assert the fact that you have exclusive access to the area and not for the neighbours.
As for common property, these belong to all owners collectively. You pay for maintenance of common property with your contribution to strata levy. Strata by-laws will set out rules as to what individual owners may or may not do on common property. Some of these may include no noise pollution, damaging common property and no obstruction of common property.
As all areas shown as common property are owned by the owners corporation (which appoints the strata management company), all constructions and subsequent removals of facilities must go through strata management. No individual owners have the right to alter any existing constructions, this means that for the matter mentioned above, our client’s neighbours must go through the strata management to request for the removal of the fence. Please also keep in mind that individual owners must not obstruct others from access to strata common areas, including pathways, common gardens and clothes lines etc, and any areas labelled as ‘void’ on the strata plan should be kept empty.
In summary, when there are similar disputes as described above, owners may first refer to the strata plans, then obtain legal advice to identify areas and facilities that do or do not belong to you. After that, you may talk to owners corporation about your rights and your standing. Please contact us to enquire on how we may assist on resolving your disputes.