16 Things Respectful Body Corporate Residents Do

body corporate residentsThere are two groups of people in a strata scheme: lot owners and body corporate residents.

When I use the term “body corporate residents” I mean everyone who lives in the scheme, owners or tenants and their various visitors.

How body corporate residents treat each other is a key measure of the success of a scheme.

Consideration is the lubricant that lets unrelated groups of people rub along together without incident. Lack of consideration is like sawdust in a performance machine: its not going to end well!

Body Corporate Residents Need Consideration and Communication

A wise friend pointed out to me that “common sense” is often confused with “common knowledge”. And the thing about “common knowledge”: It’s often not as common as you think.

People with different backgrounds have different ideas of what constitutes consideration. Consideration then needs to go hand and hand with the other “C” word most of us struggle with: Communication.

In the interests of communication here is a list of 16 things respectful body corporate residents do to promote harmony and good feelings at home:

  1. Put their car in its designated space or leave it outside.  It doesn’t matter if you’re only going to be five minutes that five minutes could make a world of difference to another person. Don’t block anyone, or anything with your vehicle.
  2. Treat shared spaces with respect.  Keep off the lawns and respect the gardens. If you make a mess clean up after yourself. Leave any common property you’ve used in the condition it was when you go there. And if it’s not up to standard that isn’t an invitation to treat it poorly. Either report it or clean it up yourself.
  3. Keep the exterior of their lot tidy. Buying a lot in a body corporate is a shared investment. A failure of one person will have a detrimental impact for the value of the entire scheme. Appearance is one of the key responsibilities all body corporate residents share. Keep of the exterior of your lot clean, tidy and uncluttered.
  4. Keep the noise down. Shared spaces means there’s going to be some noise, there’s no way to avoid it. Please, do try and be quiet. Especially be quiet after 11pm and in the early morning, those times when local council by-laws prohibit loud noise. Especially be quiet on balconies at night.
  5. Apologise to neighbours when they screw up. Yes, OK you were noisy. The game was on, it was your kid’s birthday or, you just got carried away. Whatever the reason apologise to your neighbours. Acknowledging that you screwed up and letting them know it won’t be a regular occurrence will heal wounds and promote harmony.
  6. Don’t hold grudges. Yes OK, your neighbour did that one thing that was truly annoying and inconsiderate. Please don’t glare at them every day for the next two years and especially don’t pounce on anything else they do wrong. You don’t have to like them or even have anything to do with them but snarling at them every time you see them is mean.
  7. Discuss problems with your neighbours. If you neighbour has lived next door for a year and done the same thing every single day all that time, but its driving you wild, don’t assume they’re only doing it to annoy you. It’s far more probable they have no idea it bothers you. If you’d like someone to change a particular behaviour the best place to start is to discuss it with them.
  8. Approach confrontation calmly and rationally. Screaming at someone because they’ve done this one thing every day for a year is not rational. Being confronted is hard to take even when things are done calmly. You’re not trying to start a war here, just get a behaviour modified. Calmly and rationally is your best way forward. If you’re not feeling calm and rational wait until you have some perspective.
  9. Calmly listen when confronted with issues. If you’re calmly and rationally asked to turn the volume down, or whatever, please don’t lose all sense of proportion and start acting like they threatened your dear old Mum. Yes, it is quite probable the person who complained does annoying things to. Bringing them up right now is deflective behaviour and makes you look immature. Calmly listen to people’s complaints. Better yet, when you’ve had a chance to calm down, take action.
  10. Be the bigger person. OK you’ve had words with a neighbour. They’ve asked you to turn the volume down. Going inside and turning the volume up is petty. Doing the annoying things back is petty. Spreading nasty rumours about them is petty. Pettiness is pointless and has a habit of escalating. All that’s going to happen is that everyone involved ends up feeling uncomfortable in their own home. Skip it by letting things go.
  11. Accept that they’re going to have to share. Bodies corporate are about sharing: investment, responsibility and space. Yes your upstairs neighbour might be noisy and finding a car space is a boss-level challenge. Keeping the noise down, parking in designated areas, obeying by-laws, generally keeping your lot clean and tidy all promote harmony and are all necessary tasks for body corporate residents. Your rights are not being infringed because you need to be considerate. That’s simply life in shared spaces.
  12. Let the committee know if you spot an issue. If you see something broken or suspect a problem around the scheme report the matter to your committee. Strata schemes are large and we all tend to stick to certain areas. If a problem hasn’t been addressed for a long period of time it could be because the committee don’t know about it.
  13. Committee members do not have extra rights. Being on the committee is all about service and representation. Yes you’ll be able to get some projects done, likely the ones that affect your unit. It does not grant you additional privileges. Yes other owners should be grateful to you for your service but there should be no difference in treatment of committee members and other body corporate residents. By-laws and legislation apply to everyone equally.
  14. Keep complaints to a minimum, unless you’re engaged. If you’ve reported the same issue to committee several times, but have never kept up with the response (refer to committee minutes) please don’t keep bringing it up. There may be priorities that need to be addressed first. It may be un-fixable. Unless you’re engaged with what’s happening you’re just abdicating responsibility. Instead consider joining the committee and getting involved.
  15. Observe the by-laws; even if others don’t. “Everyone’s doing it” is about the lamest excuse possible. It’s both very unlikely and completely beside the point. Other people’s bad behaviour is not permission for you to behave badly as well. Set an example and do the right thing.
  16. Refrain from bullying, or worse, helping others bully. Mob justice is disrespectful and flat out nasty. Forming clicks to alienate people and try and control their lives is ugly and repellent. Disagreements happen in shared environments; it’s going to be a fact of life. Argue on the facts. Robust discussion on issues will help everyone. Never resort to bullying, discrimination, intimidation and threats to get your way. More importantly, don’t support those who engage in those behaviours. This is everyone’s home and all have a right to feel safe and supported in this environment.

 Conclusion

If you can pull all these things off you, sir or madam, are a paragon among people. Most of us are going to be able to manage some of them for some of the time. My message here is sharing your home is challenging, even when there’s an existing relationship. Sharing with strangers, which is essentially what a body corporate is, can be frustrating, irritating and even frightening.

Respectful, considerate and mature body corporate residents make the best neighbours. For everyone else patience and forgiveness is what we should aim for.

THE BASICS OF BODY CORPORATES

A little knowledge can go a long way


I see so many stressful and frustrating issues in body corporate records that result from simple misunderstandings it hurts my head. If I could do one thing to help it would be to teach everyone the basic rules, so they can avoid all these dramas.


With that in mind I've put together a short eBook that sets out the basics everyone owning in a body corporate really should know. It won't make those big issues go away, but it will give you a firm grounding from which to communicate.


It's completely free, so please, download it now!

Download Now

Comments

  1. Albert Jones says:

    Very interesting and helpful advice for all strata unit residents.

  2. Bee Murray says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately my neighbour was very politely asked to turn music down which he did for half an hour, then came to me, wouldn’t let me speak and I was told “I was NEVER to ask him that again and he will continue to play his music as loudly as he wants”. So disappointing.

    • Hi Bee

      That’s awful. And so nonsensical. How are you meant to live together if you can’t say, “oh hey, blah, blah, blah”. Makes it so uncomfortable. I think some people must like it that way.

  3. Thanks Lisa. Very helpful. I think I’ll print it for our four residents in our small body corporate. Basic reoccurring!

    • That last sentence should have read: basic respect. Auto text sometimes misbehaves. Didn’t proof it before sending.

    • Hi Jo

      You’re quite right: Its all about respect. Its like covering your nose when you sneeze. Everyday if you do, gross if you don’t.

  4. Yes, Ive tried being nice, considerate, cooked meals for some residents, driving residents, & helping out others, but when I needed a Assistance Dog I became a pariah. The Committee, on site Manager and some residents were openly hostile. After paying for QLD Conciliation, I was still refused entry to all common areas, forced to pay for things no other owner had to. I’ve moved out, I’m living in a old motorhome & have a tenant in. Can’t wait to sell.

    • Hi Gypsy

      That sounds terrible. Sometimes there’s no getting along with the people you’re sharing with. Selling is usually the best idea. Its such a shame though.

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