Apartment living: issues and annoyances


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Apartment living: issues and annoyances

Loud parties and yappy dogs, home renovations and parking in the visitor's spot - living in an apartment block can sometimes present a range of trials and tribulations for its inhabitants. A 2012 City Future Research Centre study based in NSW found that over 51% of surveyed strata-owners had experienced disputes with their neighbours, with some of the most common reasons for conflict being noise, parking, pets, smoking and renovationsi.

A 2012 study in NSW found 51% of surveyed strata-owners had experienced conflict with a neighbour.

Noise

Whether it's a blaring TV or nocturnal amorous activities, noise pollution occurs when an unacceptable level of sound is reached. The type of sound, its frequency or the time that it's heard may play a part as to why the noise is unacceptablei. The level of sound that is acceptable for one person may be unreasonable for another, and even the most courteous neighbours can inadvertently cause noise pollutionii.

One of the best ways to avoid creating noise pollution is to be considerate and respectful. Turning the bass down at night and avoiding the use of power drills early in the morning are simple steps to takeii. It's also a good idea to check that air conditioning units and other equipment that emit incidental sound are in prime condition to minimise excess noiseii. Neighbours may find noise bearable if they're told ahead of time when it will start and finish, so let them know when noisy activities like parties or renovations are plannedii.

Parking

One of the recurrent issues facing apartment dwellers is illegal parking on common property or in spaces reserved for residentsiii. One of the ways to deal with rogue parking is to firstly make sure that all apartment residents and their visitors are aware of parking regulationsiii. It's also important to ensure that there is clear signage that indicates the apartment block's parking rulesiii.

Smoking

As Australians become more aware of the health effects of second-hand smoke, there is a growing trend towards apartment blocks adopting smoke-free policiesiv. Strong opinions are held on both sides of the debate; residents believe it is their right to smoke inside their homes whereas others argue that the second-hand smoke is harmful to their health and homes if it is transmitted via balconies or a central ventilation systemiv.

If a smoke-free environment is important to you, it's a good idea to check if the strata scheme has a by-law in place that limits or bans smoking before you move in. You can also address the issue by creating a new by-law with support from 75% of the apartment owners at the strata meetingv.

Pets

If you have a pet or are considering getting one, it's important to check your strata's regulations concerning pets. Although some strata schemes will not authorise the ownership of any pets, others will condone it with permission from the owners corporationvi. Each owners corporation will have different strata by-laws concerning pet ownership and these will in turn be affected by state legislationvi. Strata laws in each state and territory vary; you can find a comparative guide to state legislation and pet ownership on the Strata Ownership Australia website.

Renovations

Although apartment-owners benefit from the convenience of communal strata maintenance, they can face difficulties from strata laws concerning common property. Common property includes walls, windows and flooring, and even if these appear to be within the confines of your own home you may need to seek permission to make changes to themvii. Ensure that you consult other owners at a strata meeting before undertaking renovations to avoid any possible strife further down the track. To authorise your proposed developments, you may need to create a new by-law with support from 75% of owners at the meetingvii.

Breaking by-laws

In comparison to owning a freestanding home, there is a range of restrictions associated with living in a strata-titled propertyviii. Each strata scheme will have its own set of by-laws that affect your obligations, whether it's where you can hang your laundry or where you should put your household garbageviii. If a resident, including owners and tenants, repeatedly ignores by-laws, they may be served with a contravention noticev. If further breaches occur, the resident will be obligated to pay a finev.

Breaking by-laws was found to be the source of almost 60% of strata disputes in the University of NSW's Governing the Compact Cityi report. It's important to know both your rights and responsibilitiesviii as an apartment owner, so visit your state government website for more information on strata schemes and by-laws.

It's important to check strata by-laws to see how they affect pet ownership.

Resolving issues

It's always best to try to resolve any issues in person, but if that fails then mediation is available for strata membersix. It's worth trying to deal with any conflict in a polite and friendly manner face-to-face, as discussing the issue is the first step to resolving it and open communication is vital to living in harmonyx. Hopefully you can keep your neighbour as an amicable acquaintance; you never know when you'll need to borrow a cup of sugar!

Maintaining a good relationship with your neighbours makes your home life more enjoyable, and also improves your sense of security. Allianz Contents insurance for your apartment will also add to your sense of security by providing financial compensation for you and your family if your belongings are stolen or damaged. Get a quote from Allianz today!


i City Futures Research Centre 2012, Governing the Compact City, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.be.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/upload/research/centres/cf/newsarchive/2011/Governing_the_Compact_City_FINAL_REPORT.pdf

ii Environmental Protection Authority Victoria 2013, Residential Noise, Victorian Government, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/noise/residential-noise

iii Strata Community Australia 2013, Parking, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.stratacommunity.org.au/strata-living/parking

iv Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) 2010,Smoke free housing, viewed 31 January 2014,
http://www.acosh.org/campaigns/smoke-free-housing/

v Department of Fair Trading 2013, By-laws in a strata scheme, NSW Government, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Strata_schemes/Bylaws_in_a_strata_scheme.page?

vi Strata Community Australia 2013, Strata laws impacting pet owners: a state by state summary, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.stratacommunity.org.au/strata-living/strata-laws-impacting-pet-owners-state-state-summary

vii Thomson J 2011, 'Top 20 issues for apartment residents', Domain, 11 May, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://news.domain.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/top-20-issues-for-apartment-residents-20110520-1evch.html

viii Department of Fair Trading 2013, Strata Schemes, NSW Government, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Strata_schemes.page?

ix Department of Fair Trading 2013, Resolving issues - strata schemes, NSW Government, viewed 2 October 2013,
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Strata_schemes/Resolving_issues_strata_schemes.page?

x Department of Fair Trading 2013, Strata and community disputes, NSW Government, viewed 11 October 2013,
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Strata_schemes/Resolving_issues_strata_schemes/Strata_and_community_disputes.page