Living in an apartment – Dos and don’ts

Living in close proximity to others means your decisions can affect others. There are five common mistakes that can cause unnecessary angst:

1. Asking your body corporate
manager to repair your apartment Harry’s front door lock is sticking and doesn’t always work properly. He’s worried he’ll get locked out of or inside his apartment, so he calls his body corporate manager to arrange for it to be fixed. In fact, Harry’s front door lock isn’t common property, so he’s better off calling a locksmith rather than his body corporate manager to fix it. Body corporate fees only cover repairs and maintenance to common property. Common property only includes things like shared swimming pools, BBQs, driveways, and other shared facilities. Anything inside your apartment is likely to be your responsibility. To avoid making the same mistake as Harry, check your plan of sub-division and the boundaries with your body corporate
manager. If you’re not sure, always check with your body corporate manager before you get any repairs done.

2. Keeping a pet without checking your building’s rules
Sally and Greg are animal lovers and they recently bought a pet kitten. They’re pretty sure they’re within their rights to have a pet but their neighbour has lodged a complaint, stating that the by-laws prohibit pets. Sally and Greg should have obtained permission from their body corporate before getting a kitten. While by-laws forbidding pets aren’t necessarily valid, no one wants an argument or an expensive legal battle over a kitten, so it makes sense to review the by-laws and get body corporate permission beforehand. If the body corporate denies you
permission to get a fur baby, you can appeal. However, it’s important to follow the right procedures to avoid unnecessary hassle.

3. Smoking on common property
Cathy doesn’t smoke inside her apartment; she doesn’t like the lingering smell and, as a renter, she knows her landlord prohibits smoking. So she goes out to the communal swimming pool and
BBQ area when she needs to light up. Unfortunately, Cathy doesn’t realise that smoking on common property is also prohibited in her complex. If the smoke drifts into another resident’s apartment, they could file a complaint against Cathy. This could jeopardise her good relationship with her landlord. Before smoking on common property, make sure you check your complex’s by-laws to make sure you’re not contravening them.

4. Assuming your backyard belongs to your unit
When James and Richard bought their unit, they were attracted to the small, fenced-in backyard. Then they found out the fence wasn’t approved and, in fact, what they thought was their property is actually common property. James and Richard came to an agreement with their body corporate that they would lease the area, giving them a level of control over their backyard. Their body corporate manager also confirmed that this meant James and Richard are responsible for maintaining it, rather than it being treated as common property. To avoid confusion, check your sale documents to ensure you’re buying what you think you are, and that there are no unauthorised improvements or fences on common property.

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