If you’re a property owner in Australia, chances are you’re familiar with the concept of strata. Strata refers to the ownership of part of a property, such as a unit or an apartment, along with a share in common property, such as the building, land or facilities. Strata ownership is becoming more and more popular, particularly in urban areas, due to its convenience and affordability.
However, with strata ownership comes the possibility of disputes. These disputes can arise between owners, tenants and the strata committee over issues, such as by-laws, repairs and maintenance, renovations, noise and pets. Disputes can be stressful, time-consuming and costly for all parties involved.
That’s why it’s important for property owners to know how to resolve these disputes effectively and efficiently. By understanding the most common types of strata disputes and how to navigate them, you can minimise the impact of disputes on their investment and quality of life.
In this article, we’ll outline the top five common strata disputes and provide tips for resolving them, so that you can feel more confident and in control when dealing with strata-related issues.
By-laws are rules and regulations that govern the use and enjoyment of the strata property. Disputes can arise over issues, such as noise, pets, parking, smoking and renovations. By-law disputes can have serious consequences, including fines, legal action and eviction in extreme cases.
When dealing with by-law disputes, it’s important to first review the relevant by-law and understand your rights and obligations. You should also communicate with other parties involved in a calm and respectful manner, and try to find a mutually acceptable solution.
If communication breaks down, you may need to escalate the dispute to the strata committee or a mediator. In some cases, you may need to seek legal advice from a property lawyer who can help you understand your rights and represent you in legal proceedings.
Repair and Maintenance Disputes
Strata properties require ongoing maintenance and repairs to ensure they remain safe and livable. Repair and maintenance disputes can be about who is responsible for repairs, what needs to be repaired and the quality of repairs. These disputes can lead to costly repairs being delayed, safety hazards being overlooked and even legal action being taken.
To resolve repairs and maintenance disputes, you should first try to communicate with the strata committee or property manager to identify the issue and the necessary repairs. If the repairs are not completed in a timely manner or if there is a disagreement about who is responsible for paying for the repairs, you may consider involving a mediator or seeking legal advice from a property lawyer. You should also document any communication and evidence related to the dispute, such as photographs or emails, as this may be useful in legal proceedings.
Common Property Disputes
Common property is shared by all owners in a strata building, and disputes can arise over its use and management. Common property disputes can include disagreements over maintenance, access, use and even ownership of common areas, such as the building’s entrance or rooftop. These disputes can cause tension between owners, affect property values and result in legal action.
If you’re experiencing this type of strata dispute, it’s essential to reach out to your strata committee or property manager to try to find a resolution that benefits all parties involved. However, if negotiations don’t work out, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a mediator or property lawyer to provide expert advice.
Additionally, it could be beneficial to involve professionals like building inspectors or surveyors to help resolve the dispute. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations to help all parties come to a fair resolution.
Strata buildings require insurance to cover the common property and building structure. Disputes may occur due to disagreements on who should pay for insurance premiums, what the insurance policy covers and how claims should be processed. Insurance disputes can leave property owners vulnerable to financial losses and legal liabilities.
To resolve insurance-related strata disputes, start by reviewing the insurance policy to understand the coverage. Make sure that the necessary claims are filed in a timely manner by communicating with the strata committee or property manager.
If there are disagreements regarding insurance premiums or claim handling, consider seeking advice from property dispute lawyers. Also, keep proper documentation of all communication and evidence related to the dispute, such as invoices or correspondence with the insurer.
Debt Recovery Disputes
Strata buildings rely on timely payment of levies by all owners to cover expenses such as maintenance, repairs and insurance. Unpaid levies can lead to debt recovery disputes that are costly and time-consuming.
If you’re facing such a dispute, know your rights and obligations as an owner. Try negotiating a payment plan or settlement with the strata committee or property manager. If that doesn’t work, it’s best to consult a property lawyer for legal advice and representation. It is also important to keep records of all payments and communication related to the dispute, as this may be useful in legal proceedings.
How Madison Marcus Can Help You
Understanding the common types of strata disputes and how to resolve them is crucial for property owners. By taking practical steps, such as communicating effectively with other parties involved in the dispute, gathering evidence and engaging with strata managers and other professionals who can help, you can avoid lengthy legal battles and achieve a satisfactory resolution.
At Madison Marcus, our expert team of property lawyers in Brisbane can provide specialised advice in relation to all strata-related matters, including strata disputes. We have extensive experience advising and representing owners corporations in all types of strata disputes and running strata disputes in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). We can provide you with practical advice and represent you in legal proceedings if necessary.
For all enquiries, contact us here.