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Flat Chat

Flatchat Hits a Century

Believe it or not, this is the 100th Flatchat column since we started back in 2004. In the intervening years every tragic aspect of strata life has paraded through these pages.

Noise has been a recurring issue, something noted by an enterprising company that occasionally runs ads for sound blocking solutions just above this column.

Parking has been another source of despair and the best advice we could pass on form the Office of Fair Trading was to install pop-up bollards. Our apartment block just did it and, guess what, it works.

Pets have been a perennial issue but many buildings are coming round to the idea of allowing "companion animals" under strict controls rather than banning them altogether. A model pet bylaw available on my website has apparently prove helpful.

We discovered that strata parasites who refuse to pay their levies are everywhere. These shysters rent out their apartments, including the communal facilities, but hang on to the levies until they sell up or are dragged through the courts.

In my humble opinion they should have their rents seized till they have cleared their debts ... but the OFT doesn't think there's a problem so what can you do?

When it comes to turning a blind eye to dodgy dealings, the State Government's tacit acceptance of developers installing their own management firms in their buildings, still takes the political biscuit.

In Victoria the government's website specifically warns apartment buyers about the potential conflict of interest, especially when it comes to identifying and rectifying defects. But in NSW, the silence is deafening.

Last year Macquarie St has made it more difficult for owners to sue developers (or anyone else) to get a fair deal. No surprise, then, that developers are the biggest donors to political parties.

It's not all doom and gloom. We've put a lot of people with problems in touch with others with solutions. And the emails from Flatchatters who are simply relieved to know that they are not alone in the strata jungle are hugely gratifying.

Thanks for helping us hit our century.

First published SMH July 2006