Living in a world of apartments is complex, so ask your question

Living in a world of apartments is complex, so ask your question

Inside every building is a story but it is a complex story that is told from many different perspectives. Join us as we answer your questions so we can all understand that world a little bit better.

Q: What’s the best approach for handling difficult neighbours?

A: This can be challenging, but approaching the situation with patience, empathy, and open communication is often best.

It’s important to address any concerns respectfully to understand their perspective while also expressing your own needs.

Initiating a friendly conversation or mediation with the help of a building manager or community mediator can often lead to a resolution that benefits both parties. If the issue persists, documenting incidents and seeking assistance from local authorities or strata management may be necessary to ensure a peaceful living environment.

In cases that escalate to a dispute, residents can file a formal complaint via the owners’ corporation (OC) manager, which can only be lodged against a lot owner, occupier of a lot or the OC manager and not a third party. The Owners’ Corporations Act 2006 outlines a process for handling formal complaints, comprising three steps:

  • Internal complaints process: lodging complaints with the OC manager, and then following a procedure that includes holding a grievance meeting with the grievance committee and, if as a consequence, issuing a breach notice. Breach notices typically allow 28 days for the respondent to remedy the breach before it would escalate. If the complainant isn’t satisfied with the outcome, they have the option to resolve the dispute via the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) or go directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
  • Resolving disputes with the DSCV: Parties can seek assistance from DSCV, which aims to facilitate resolution through mutual agreement. This is optional, and many residents may find this path is quicker and more cost effective. DSCV can only try to resolve a dispute if all parties agree to take part in this process.
  • Applying to VCAT: If disputes remain unresolved, parties can apply to VCAT, which has authority to issue various orders and penalties.

Throughout the process, record-keeping is essential, and any complaints and actions that have occurred since the previous meeting must be reported at the OC’s AGM. VCAT prioritises cases based on urgency and can issue a variety of orders to resolve disputes.

Q: How long can I hold lift doors open?

A: Only momentarily to accommodate additional passengers, but it’s important to not hold it for too long. Extended holding or misuse can lead to breakdowns and lift shutdowns. Repair costs are substantial, so residents should be conscious of this.

Technicians emphasise that given a lift’s continuous operation, they are programmed to regularly assess their safety status. Should an obstruction persist at the doors for an extended period, the lift automatically shuts off to mitigate the risk of injury. Although some lifts may self-correct, it often requires a technician to ensure proper functionality is restored.

True story

Who knew that the role of a building manager would transform into a professional translator overnight?

One day, a resident approached, holding a translating app on their phone. As the building manager I mirrored the action, and before we knew it, we were having a conversation in entirely different languages!

It looks like building managers have added “multilingual mediator” to their resume. Indeed, you never know what surprises each day holds in this job!

Have a question you’d like answered? Submit yours and stay tuned to future editions. •

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