How to deal with bullying in your strata property
Neighbour disagreements tend to be a part of strata living. However, bullying and intimidatory behaviour by an owner, resident, guest, committee member or manager can be a prickly issue that should be addressed with special care.
Strata community living means sharing space with a variety of people of different temperaments, mentalities and backgrounds. So, we understand it can become quite stressful when people don’t get along.
However, when someone in your strata or body corporate property behaves in a rude, inappropriate and downright threatening manner – what do you do?
- Know your rights and responsibilities
Presently, strata law is not very clear on dealing with bullies in a community.
Effective from February 2019, the New South Wales Government amended the residential tenancy laws to protect the rights of tenants who may be victim to domestic abuse. While this regulation doesn’t cover all aspects of strata or all residents who may be affected by intimidation, it’s a start.
If you are a tenant facing harassment at home, you should take note of this provision.
If you’re renting your strata property, you should take care to protect the interests of your tenants who may be victims of domestic abuse, so they’re not further distressed with undue increase in rent or compelled to move out as a result.
- Know your by-laws and building rules
By-laws and rules often cover a wide range of issues that are common to strata living. They guide you and keep all property owners on the same page.
As an owner, everyone has a right to enjoy their own property in their own way. However, it is important to be mindful of your neighbours right to enjoyment of their property as well.
In case you’re having trouble with noisy neighbours, unruly guests, sharing boundaries and common parking spaces, experiencing pet problems, etc., you may refer to your by-laws first.
If having an open chat with the trouble-maker isn’t doing the trick, you may take the help of your strata manager or committee for mediation. They can explain the rules and consequences to the problem-maker. If that doesn’t work, you can always seek solutions through the Tribunal.
- Speak up, take a stand
Often, when an owner, resident or manager resorts to harassing or intimidating tactics, it can affect the community.
If more people are affected by a person’s uncivil behaviour, you may take a collective step to share your concerns with the owners corporation in a general meeting. If your by-laws aren’t addressing the issue of bullying, you may seek to file a motion on the agenda of your next Annual general Meeting (AGM) to amend your by-laws with this provision.
If there’s an emergency, you should bring it to the notice of your committee immediately and urge them to call an extraordinary general meeting to remedy the situation.
Make sure to keep any evidence that may help your case – pictures, emails, messages, screenshots or recordings that prove you’re being bullied or threatened.
Safe Work Australia outlines how bullying may affect the health and safety in the workplace. Harassment can range from abusive or threatening behaviour, to offensive language, insulting comments, unjustified criticism or complaints to malicious gossip.
Since mental health is an important concern, your committee must align with the law and take steps to protect the peace of the property and curb such behaviour.