Although the decorations seem to go up earlier and earlier every year Monday officially marked the start of the silly season. Along with the holidays comes the fact that many of us take advantage of the silly season to go out more, come home later and have friends and family over more often. This and the stress of the season can cause neighbourly tensions to boil over in some cases as small irritants become larger problems with more people at home more often.
Common complaints around this time of year are increased noise, smoke drifting into lots (from BBQ’s or the dreaded cigarette), guests or other owners or occupiers parking in visitors parking or on the common property and guests or other owners and occupiers creating a mess in the common areas.
What can you do if your one of you neighbours is driving you crazy over the silly season? First, stop and breathe. If it is an emergency such as if you feel threatened then you need to call emergency services. If it is not an emergency, consider whether it is an ongoing issue or whether it is a one off event.
If it is a one off event, depending on the seriousness you may be best living and letting go. Why? Complaints about one off events often cause resentment and be blown out of proportion creating a tit-for-tat retaliation by the person complained of.
If it is an ongoing or serious issue then you can do something about it however it is a little more difficult as often strata managers, building managers and your executive committee members are either on leave or more difficult to contact. The first step is to document the problem. Start a diary log (including where possible photos of the behaviour complained of) detailing the problem ensuring you note the time, date, persons observed and details of what the issue is. For instance if it is repeatedly leaving waste around the common property pool, which is a breach of NSW model by-law 9, taking a picture of the mess left noting the time, date and the persons who created the mess. This is evidence needed to take the matter forward.
You should either ask the lot owner or occupier to stop their (or their guest’s) behaviour or, if you are uncomfortable doing this, you should provide the evidence to your executive committee, building manager or strata manager request their assistance. If the behaviour continues a notice to comply (in the ACT a rule infringement notice) may be appropriate or an application for mediation followed by an application to NCAT (in the ACT it is ACAT) if the issue is not resolved. The legal process is not instantaneous meaning patience will be required. In the meantime any further breaches of the by-law or rules should be documented and provided to your strata manager.
And yes, this blog features a gratuitous photo of a recent mini break to the Hobbiton set near Muta Muta (New Zealand) – much recommended for Tolkien fans.