Spring is upon us (hooray) and that means another round of holidays. Before you begin to let your hair down, it’s important to ensure your strata community is prepared for the unique challenges that the holiday period can present.
Short-term stays, security, pool safety, noise and parking can all become major issues during the holiday period.
For many apartment owners and residents, the holidays can be a complete breakaway from how their communities are typically run.
Below is our guide for preparing your community for a peaceful, safe and secure holiday period.
While everyone should take extra precautions before leaving on holidays, those living in a strata community should be extra cautious. The holiday period can pose extra troubles for security in your community, with guests coming in and residents leaving on holidays.
Empty apartments, full mailboxes and unattended vehicles in car parks can be a major target for thieves during this period. With visitors coming and going at a higher rate than usual, the chances of unauthorised persons gaining access to properties is also significantly higher.
We recommend residents remain vigilant and look out for their neighbours. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported to the authorities.
What is Suspicious Behaviour?
- Persons loitering in or near apartment access points
- Motorists tailgating drivers into car parks
- Strangers looking into storage cages
- Damage to common property like lifts and foyers
- Finding doors chocked (i.e. blocked or jammed) open that should be closed
Mail theft is a major opportunity for identity thieves and school holidays are prime time for these groups to target overflowing mailboxes from absent residents.
Ensure that any holidaying residents have organised their mail to be collected/diverted while they are away.
Lock Balcony Doors
Of the hundreds of thousands of burglaries recorded in Australia annually, the most common methods of entry are through an unlocked door or window.
Thieves often target apartments with unlocked balcony doors. This is exacerbated during the holiday period when many apartments will be vacant and access to one lot can often mean access to many.
Be sure to remind any holidaying community members to confirm their balconies are locked before leaving.
For many apartment residents the holidays mean an increase in the number of strangers staying in their communities. Whether visitors of residents or short-term rental guests, this can present significant security challenges.
Some things to consider:
- Is there a system in place for keys and/or entry cards to be returned at the end of each stay?
- Are visitors seeking access from the persons they are visiting and not just following other residents into the building or complex?
- Are keys left in lockboxes out of sight from the street?
Communities must ensure that there are proper processes in place to track visitors and mitigate against the increased risks to security.
Holidays are all about having a good time but if loud parties or carelessness with a shared property disrupts the life of your neighbour, that’s not a good thing.
No one likes an overzealous killjoy but nor should someone be disrupted in their rest and relaxation by unruly and unreasonably noisy neighbours.
Issuing reminders about noise curfews and party policies will be a good way to alleviate any unwanted disruptions this holiday.
When dealing with noise complaints the first option should always be to communicate in a friendly, open manner directly with the source of the problem.
Most noise complaints can be resolved right at this moment.
While residents are away valuable items should be securely stored away to deter would-be-thieves.
If you have a storage cage valuable items should be relocated securely in your apartment before you leave.
Leaving the car on the property while you are away? Move any valuables from the vehicle into your apartment.
Visitor parking can be one the main causes of disputes between members of a strata community.
Ensure any visitors (including your family) have a clear understanding of where they should and shouldn’t be parking and for how long.
Swimming pools are a fun part of community living, but without regular oversight and management they can quickly become a high-risk environment especially with increased use in the holiday period.
As the school holidays approach proper care and maintenance of pools should be a key priority.
Communities must ensure pools are safe and fully compliant with all necessary regulations.
Short-term Letting– What’s the deal in Queensland?
Current Queensland law does not allow bodies corporate to enforce restrictions through by-laws in the area of short-term letting.
This means that if you’re a property owner and you choose to rent out your residential unit on Airbnb, the body corporate cannot stop you doing so.
Short-term letting is prohibited only where such use is contrary to the local planning laws.
Discuss the issue and create guidelines for your community
We encourage bodies corporate, landlords and tenants to discuss fair rules for home sharing in their community.
Even though Queensland allows it, owners and residents still need to comply with your community’s by-laws and rules to ensure short-term stays do not cause issues with other members of your community.
By-laws apply to everyone who occupies a lot for any length of time– not just owners or permanent residents.
Your body corporate should set guidelines to protect the common property and encourage property owners to mutually agree on their maintenance and mediation processes so that short-term letting activities cause as little disruption as possible.
As well as providing keys, any owners who rent their property out for short stays should ensure that guests receive a copy of the by-laws and are crystal clear what behaviour is expected in the community they are staying.
Smoking, noise, use of the pool, gym and how to dispose of rubbish are the common ‘nuisance items’ in short stays gone wrong.
If you have any questions about any of the issues above, contact your Body Corporate Manager.
Author: Stratacare Australia