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27 Jan 2021

Disputes within an Owners Corporation are far more common than many people realise. They can occur over major problems but also too frequently they arise over petty issues that should be able to be quickly resolved by mature adults. Disagreements occur for a wide number of reasons and it can be particularly difficult for everybody when one or more owners decide to unilaterally make decisions about ‘how things are done around here’. The result is that other owners don’t have an opportunity to voice their opinions and feel bullied and belittled.
Disputes frequently arise over repairs and maintenance. The question frequently arises over whether it is an individual owner’s responsibility or something the entire strata community should contribute to. If owners are unsure, they should seek the advice of a strata specialist.
Despite the occasional owner putting themselves forward as experts in understanding ‘the law’, disagreements frequently occur over misunderstanding or ignorance of the Owners Corporations Act (2006). This Act, together with a strong knowledge of the strata’s Plan of Subdivision, together with the strata specialist’s many years of practical experience, provide a framework for a full understanding of the issues and how to best resolve them.
The opportunity for such issues to be resolved is at the annual general meeting (or a specially convened owners’ meeting) at which these issues are discussed and decisions are made in a democratic process about how to resolve them. When these meetings fail, when disagreements remain unresolved and the strata community becomes divided it is time to call in a strata specialist to assist.
The strata specialist will point out that there is a three-step formal process to help Owners Corporations deal with grievances:

  • Internal dispute resolution
  • Conciliation through Consumer Affairs Victoria
  • Applications to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Resolving issues without resorting to the financial and time cost of taking the matter to VCAT is obviously preferable.