The holidays are almost here and it’s time to finally relax and have a good time with friends and family.
However, for those in strata properties the good times can quickly turn stressful with the holidays for many being a period where their community operates completely differently.
Extra visitors and noise can lead to increased strain on communal spaces and to greater disputes between residents.
But it does not have to be like this.
Everyone has a right to a good time and enjoy the festive season with friends and family, but in apartment buildings and townhouse complexes it’s vital that everyone does so in a manner that respects their neighbours.
By using simple common sense, effective communication and simple respect for others, your strata community can have peaceful and happy holidays for all.
Disputes around parking is a common issue for bodies corporate but can be greatly exacerbated during the holiday period.
Simple rules to follow.
• If you have a car park, park your car in it.
• If you have more cars than spaces, park additional vehicles outside the complex.
• Never park in a space which is not yours.
• Remind your visitors to park thoughtfully
• Do not let your guest park in visitor spaces for more than 48 hours (or less if that is what your scheme’s by-laws state).
• Do not get upset if other visitors have legitimately used the visitor parking.
If you are vacating your property for the holiday period and have an empty car space, why not offer to lend it to a neighbor? Or inform your community that it is vacant and free to be used while your away.
Report any repeat parking offenders to your body corporate manager.
Before you start bringing out the holly and the ivy, you’ll need to check with your Body Corporate.
Just about every community has a by-law or rule regarding what can and cannot be placed on common property and balconies.
While you may think you have a bunch of “Grinches” for a committee, there are very legitimate concerns when it comes to Christmas decorations, including that the lights may penetrate into bedrooms and living rooms and that they can also pose a safety hazard.
Queensland is highly unlikely to experience a white Christmas, but the season is famous for it’s summer storms. Decorations can create dangerous situations if there are electrical faults or overloads, particularly in storm season.
So, if you’ve been granted permission to set up those Christmas lights, make sure any permitted decorations are in good condition and that those outside, are securely fixed to prevent a hazard.
Tips for committees on Christmas Decorations
• Ensure all residents are aware of the type and colour lights that are acceptable
• Set a definitive period where Christmas Lights may be installed. A typical range would be from December 1 until December 31.
• Communicate any rules as to the number and position of Christmas lights and decorations. If they can only be fixed to balustrades, make that clear.
• Make residents aware of what’s not allowed and why. For example, a six-foot inflatable Santa Claus could pose a safety hazard or flashing lights on a balcony could upset neighbours directly opposite.
If you live in a building that has shared amenities like barbecues, rooftop terraces, dining rooms or theatre ensure that you follow your buildings protocol for booking these spaces. Every building will have its own booking system.
Booking spaces ensures everyone knows who has priority for which areas, how long they will be there and when the spaces are free.
You should also be aware of how your guests conduct themselves while drinking and ensure you minimise their risk of injuring themselves or others. Don’t let drunk guests disturb the peace.
Once you have finished with communal spaces ensure that you clean up after your group.
If there was an accident or damage report it to your building manager or body corporate manager.
The holiday period is a wonderful time of year, but it can also generate the most waste.
Make sure you dispose of all your rubbish properly and do not contaminate your recycling bins with non-recyclable materials or garden waste.
If you see someone dumping hard waste, tell them to take it elsewhere and/or report it to your building manager or body corporate manager.
Hard waste is large items that cannot fit in a regular bin and are usually quite bulky. Items like fridges, washing machines, couches etc.
If you notice the bins are full or chutes are getting blocked, contact your building manager or body corporate manager to see if an additional pick up can be arranged.
Parties – Mind the Noise
Everyone is entitled to have a good time over the Christmas break, but if you are going to be blasting music until 2am you might want to consider going out on the town instead.
Remember while most people may be taking a break a good number will be working through the holiday period.
Whether you are outside, on a balcony or even inside your apartment, loud noises will carry.
There are definitely by-laws that must be observed, requiring any noise that is able to be heard by the neighbours to end by a certain time, usually before 10pm, and not starting until after a decent hour. (perhaps refer to your local council noise guidelines).
For example, Brisbane City Council does not deal with noise complaints about: music, loud stereos, parties, rowdy behaviour and burglar alarms. Contact the Queensland Police on 13 14 44.
If you do adjourn inside to keep partying, be aware that heavy foot traffic on floors above other units will carry quite loudly. Avoid any clatter and stomping from dancing or party shenanigans disturbing the occupants of the unit below and neighbouring.
Strongly discourage your guests from leaning over your balcony with drinks, cigarettes or cameras and ensure all cigarette butts are properly disposed of.
Ensure that you do not overload balconies with people.
If you are planning on having some people over, maybe let your immediate neighbours know. Or invite them too!
Planning your party with due respect to your neighbours and your situation will ensure your fun times aren’t ruined by complaints or worse.
Be a Good Neighbour
While the silly season is a time for fun, it is also time to be a good neighbour.
So be a respectful and considerate member of your community and have yourself a merry little Christmas and happy holidays from all the team here at Stratacare.
Author: Sam Aubrey