How to avoid dealing with a nuisance neighbour in your strata property
It’s not unusual to have at least one nuisance neighbour that you may find somewhat difficult to deal with in your strata property
Living alongside your neighbours in peace is key to your quality of living, so knowing your responsibilities and what restrictions apply, can make all the difference to create harmonious community living.In this article, we help guide you through how best to manage dealing with a nuisance neighbour:
- Using by-laws to stop nuisance disturbances
- What is “common law tort of nuisance”, and how to use it
- PICA Group’s top tips for avoiding nuisance complaints in a strata property
Using by-laws to stop nuisance disturbances
Strata or body corporate properties are home to people of different backgrounds, temperaments and personalities. At times, these close living arrangements can lead to neighbour disputes. Issues such as parking, excessive noise, unruly pets, eyesores or additions to balconies or courtyards, and smoke drift are some of the most complained about nuisances.
By-laws and rules cover most aspects of strata community living and offer guidelines that help owners and residents know the extent of what’s allowed and what’s not. They can be effective in maintaining decorum, but only if the by-laws or rules are being adhered to by residents, and if not, if they are being followed up effectively by committees and their strata managers.
What is “common law tort of nuisance”, and how to use it
In New South Wales, section 153 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 states that an owner or occupier must not use or enjoy the lot or common property in a manner, or for a purpose, that causes a nuisance to the occupier of any other lot.
Similar clauses can be found in both Queensland and Victoria state strata law. In Victoria, clause 7 of the Model Rules for an Owners Corporation describes the grievance procedure that needs to be followed to resolve nuisance matters.
Whether behaviour is considered a “nuisance” or not is sometimes tricky as “nuisance behaviour” can be subjective. This means what you call a “nuisance” may not necessarily be a nuisance in the eyes of someone else.
However, if the person is in clear breach of a by-law such as parking in your parking spot, regularly smoking a cigar on common property, or hanging washing over their balcony railings, or their actions are in breach of another state or federal law, then the strata or body corporate committee can act swiftly to resolve the issue.
PICA Group’s top tips for avoiding nuisance complaints in your strata property
- Always keep in mind, every owner and resident have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of their own property.
- Owners and residents also have a responsibility to be respectful of other’s rights to enjoyment of their private property as they wish. For example, even if you smoke within your property, smoke may drift into your neighbour’s apartment and subject them to health risks – that could cause a nuisance for them.
- All residents and owners should have a copy of the strata schemes by-laws or rules and know their rights, responsibilities and restrictions while on or living in a strata property.
- If you are leasing out your apartment, ensure your guests or tenants have a copy of the by-laws or rules as they are also responsible for maintaining peace while occupying the property.
- Before making a complaint against your neighbour for creating a nuisance, take the time to find out if they’re within their rights or not and follow the right process to get the matter before your committee.
- When in doubt of whether someone’s actions qualify as a “nuisance”, consult with your strata manager before acting.
Nuisance provisions within strata law are not a “catch all” but should be treated as cautionary framework to guide strata community living. It helps owners and residents understand the extent of their responsibilities and limitations as specified by the law and the property by-laws and rules.
If you’d like to find out more on how to deal with common strata problems for your strata property, download our FREE Community Living guide on by-laws. Or for a consultation to review your by-laws by our Kemps Petersons Legal team, click here.