Building Manager Review Issue 2 2013

Welcome to the second issue of the Building Manager’s Review. In this issue we deal with the sociology of living in strata (community living.)
  • “Why choose community living?”

  • “I don’t like my neighbours.”

  • “My neighbours are great!”

  • “I will park where I like!”

  • “Nothing ever gets done…”

  • “Who’s running this place?”

The Psychology and Sociology of strata-living

Australians have been living in units/flats/apartments since the early 1900s, prompted by the high price of land in the metro regions, and the lack of available land in sought-after areas. I asked a friend if he would consider living in an apartment and his response was, “When they discovered Australia they built houses, not flats. We’re not meant to live in apartments!” Although his attitude might be shared by others, community-style living has certainly grown exponentially and is widely excepted throughout the world. Here we look into some of the sociological factors that can impact on the smooth running of a strata community.

Personality mix

Personalities can make or break a complex. With an estimated 3 million Australians living in strata-titled complexes, and around 1.2 million in NSW, there are bound to be arguments, misunderstandings, and lawsuits – and on the happier side, great friendships created.

With so many residents, why is it so difficult to find volunteers to fill the executive committee (EC) roles? Just because people live in shared complexes, doesn’t mean they want to be involved in the day-to-day running of it. Strata living can be very challenging! Community living comes with rules and regulations, yet some residents are not aware of, or refuse to either abide by or try to understand these laws. The majority, thankfully, are suited to community living and it is obvious strata living is here to stay.

People chose community-style living for many reasons, including:

  • Proximity to work
  • Financial reasons
  • To be a part of a community
  • To find friends
  • Perceived sense of security
  • Shared costs
  • Maintenance free

What are some of the factors that affect the experience of strata-living? We examine a few below…


The Internet

There was a time when teenagers could not wait to get their driver’s licence and take off. It gave them a sense of freedom. These days social and electronic devices are the vehicle to freedom and social connectivity. Meeting friends face-to-face these days is not a big priority when you can Tweet, Facebook, Instagram or text them at any time.

The internet has also allowed for complexes to create their own website that have chat forums, building information such as meetings and repairs and maintenance issues, tradespeople, strata manager, building manager and EC contact details. Building’s websites are also very handy for people who use their apartment as a second home, for residents who want to keep informed and/or for potential buyers.

Power-hungry executive committee members
& owners

There is nothing wrong with having a strong need for control, respect and achievement. Many high achievers have a very strong psychological need for power, but it is the choices such individuals make to meet this need that can be frustrating and hurtful to others. They may speak disrespectfully to others, insist on having things their way or put other people and their opinions down. In effect they use their power – whether this comes from their authority, personality, verbal skills or influence over others – to walk over the needs of others.Assuming we are not dealing with a sociopath, power-hungry people tend to be highly sensitive to criticism, but they soak up positive feedback. Ken Warren BA, M Soc, from Positive People Solutions, says “Provided you can do so genuinely, catch them behaving in ways you like and reinforce this is in some way.”Executive committees (EC) are often filled with power-hungry people who like to take control of issues (defects and meetings for example) and when these issues don’t go to plan they often blame others. Some power-hungry EC member/s also like to use their “power” for their own agendas or benefit. We have often seen EC members take control of defect issues, only to drag the rectification period on for many years, park their personal vehicle in visitor parking and attach things to common property without written permission.Ken Warren also states “power has advantages and disadvantages for leaders. On the positive side, power makes leaders more assertive and confident and certain of their decisions. This enables them to move forward on chosen courses of action. On the negative side, the more power people possess, the more they focus on their own egocentric desires and the less able they are to see others’ perspective. And then there are individual differences. Some people are simply power hungry and prone to use their power to subject others – “they are leaders from hell”.

Lifestyle

Bliss…not having to mow the lawn or fix the door and a pool and gym ready to use.“I love it!”, says Dean from Hillsdale. “I have a shopping centre below me, a gym and pool I don’t have to look after and a big park across the road. I even have great neighbours and an on-site building manager that looks after things.” Dean loves the hassle-free lifestyle that comes with living in an apartment. The stress, cost and time of maintenance of facilities like pools and gardens can sometimes outweigh the benefits of owning a house, making strata living very appealing.Another great reason for choosing community style living is peace of mind that comes with greater security. Some complexes have more security cameras than a bank. Whilst security cameras capture events as they happen, they also help deter would-be thieves and vandals. Recently in a building in Waterloo a car was broken into and luckily we had cameras on the street frontage. The CCTV footage was given to the police an an arrest was made. Knowing the incident was caught on camera made the stressful situation a little easier for the resident.Debbie, from Zetland, says “Our neighbours on the floor below have become one of our best friends. We often have dinner together and when I am away they look after my apartment for me.” “We also have a great executive committee that get along well, our strata manager is very good and our building manager is very hands-on and proactive.”Many complexes have BBQ areas that are utilised as a gathering place for residents, family and friends, social activities, and of course just to have a barbie.”I couldn’t afford a house so I bought an apartment. The mortgage repayments on an apartment also allow me to have a little more spare cash if needed. If I had bought a house I wouldn’t have any money left over to enjoy life”, says Linda from Maroubra. Linda found it more affordable to buy an apartment and is currently enjoying her lifestyle.If your building is well run and looked after, it can be a real pleasure to live in. It’s no wonder community style living is so popular.

Adhering to by-laws and the building’s rules

Whilst most residents adhere to the by-laws there are some residents that refuse to comply. The most common by-law breach has to do with parking. In a building K&S manages a lot owner continually parked in visitor parking and kept rubbish in his car space. After several notices and a day in the CTTT the lot owner was fined a total of $5,500.00. Although not as bad as before the lot owner continues to park in visitor parking and store items in his car park and we continue to issue him with notices.

People who have a blatant disregard for the law may have an antisocial personality disorder, and can be difficult to resolve issues with. Your building manager or strata manager can assist when issues escalate.The best ways to deal with residents who are continually in breach of by-laws are:

  • Stay calm at all times
  • Continually educate
  • Add a positive to the situation
  • Be prepared to be blamed for anything and everything
  • Manage the situation
  • Avoid conflict
  • Be empathetic and honest whilst maintaining appropriate boundaries
  • Involve a third person
  • Try talking about the issue
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Do not come across as threatening

Have a question you’d like answered or feedback?
Just get in touch – info@k-sbms.com.au

K&S BMS has been working in the strata sector for almost 30 years. Our services are designed to assist owners corporations with the smooth running of their buildings. Duties we undertake include: by-law enforcement, coordinating repairs and maintenance, assisting with building defects issues and claims, coordinating fire and essential service compliance, managing various maintenance contracts, liaising with owners and tenants in the day-to-day operation of their building, and waste management.

Jamie Killorn – Director


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