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Parties and Unruly Behaviour (QLD)

Most strata schemes see residents living in dense environments. When different people are brought closely together, it is not always smooth sailing. A common concern is whether a body corporate can effectively deal with parties and the unruly behaviour that follows.

A common misconception is that a resident has a right to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their property at all times. This often translates to some strata schemes adopting by-laws requiring that there be no noise after, say, 10pm. The principle of ‘give and take, let and let live’ is applied.

An ordinary use of a lot may cause some inconvenience to neighbours from time-to-time. The law will not interfere with that. But the law does prevent a lot or the common property from being used in a way that causes a nuisance or interferes unreasonably with others. It will be unreasonable if it causes material inconvenience to an ordinary person. Our rule of thumb is that if most neighbours agree that the residents of lot x let their party get out of hand; the chances are that the illusory ‘ordinary person’ would agree. Where to from there?

  1. If the noise carries on until late into the night, becomes unbearable and/or there is any concern for damage to person or property – call the police.
  2. Record the details of any nuisance: who, what, when and where? There is little your strata manager or committee can do without this detail. If enforcement action is taken, the body corporate will need to prove its case.
  3. Neither a body corporate nor an adjudicator can evict an unruly occupier. Instead, adopt by-laws to give the body corporate more tools to address nuisances. This can include a by-law requiring an owner to take all reasonable steps to ensure their tenant complies with the by-laws, such as by issuing notices to remedy breaches and, if appropriate, terminating the tenancy.

The biggest problem with a scheme’s by-laws is that they are difficult to enforce, and a body corporate can often be reduced to a toothless tiger. That may change in the near future. The Government’s law reform team had been reviewing this issue since 2015. In 2017-18 they recommended allowing bodies corporate to issue  fines for failures to comply with by-law contravention notices. Further, an investment owner may be held liable for fines issued to a tenant. The time has now come for the Government to decide whether to take up this recommendation or not.

By-laws are taken to be terms of any residential tenancy agreement. A landlord takes a security bond to guard against property damage. That should also be extended to guard against repeated breaches of the by-laws by a tenant.

This article was contributed by Jason Carlson from Grace Lawyers.

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    Jason we live in a residential estate,46 blocks,is it true that to place a house in AIR BB,the owner must get the ok from the Body Corp before getting permits from Council, regards Gary

    1. Jason Carlson

      Hi Gary. A body corporate can only regulate the use of a lot through its by-laws, and a by-law cannot restrict the residential use of a lot. A lot is used for residential purposes irrespective of the length of a tenancy. As for whether a Council permit is required, I encourage you to speak with the town planning / development compliance team of your local government to determine whether short term accommodation is a permissible use for your property. Each area has different planning constraints. I hope this helps. Regards, Jason

  2. Harry Roberts

    After reading paragraph 2′ which stipulates the Body Corporate “will need to prove the case” this can be difficult when tenants and their visitors are involved. It comes down to their word [the tenants and their visitors] and the word [first hand experience by a lot owner or’ Body Corporate Secretary] who has to issue a breach. As far as suggesting calling the police – that’s more difficult in its self. The police generally are not interested in attending on a complaint of noise that is occurring within private premises [a unit] not unless the occupiers and or their visitors are causing problems for other occupiers by spilling out onto the common property or’ onto the street. This also needs looking at as’ this is a common occurrence in unit complexes. Many complex manager or Body Corporate Secretaries just ignore the problem due to their personal time spent to achieve very little to nothing. Tougher penalties in relation to un-due noise by owners and tenants needs to be adopted.

    1. Jason Carlson

      I agree that tougher penalties will need to be adopted. That is something I foreshadowed in the article – the legislative review team put forward the option of introducing fines for by-law breaches to be issued by bodies corporate. But even with that power, the body corporate would still need sufficient evidence of the breach.

  3. Harry Roberts

    Item 3 can also be a problem with owners who are not prepared to ensure their tenants abide by the building rules and By Laws. Some owners of rented units are only interested in the rental return and’ not the problems their tenant’s are causing to other occupiers and or the Body Corporate Manager or’ complex Secretary. Likewise [when an owner directs the Body Corporate or complex manager to their rental agent- some rental agents are also not interested in getting involved “again” protecting their ongoing revenue from the rental. As far as having a tenancy terminated due to continued breaches that causes remedy notices to be served- this is very difficult to almost impossible to archive. In fact i have not seen one termination yet in over 25 years living in units. even though it had been proven with bad tenants.

    1. Jason Carlson

      I have had success acting for bodies corporate to address unruly tenant behaviour by taking up the issue directly with the lessor. You should always make sure the owner is kept informed of any by-law breaches with a request that they address the behaviour under the tenancy agreement. If they take no action, and if the scheme has the right by-law in place, the body corporate can then issue the lessor with a contravention notice requiring that he or she take steps under the tenancy agreement and, if necessary, take the lessor to the Commissioner’s Office to enforce that. I agree that terminations of tenancies are rare, but I have seen lessors refuse to renew tenancy agreements because of a body corporate’s persistent approach.

  4. Harry Roberts

    I would like to receive advice on a problem we [the Body Corporate] is having with a rental agent. The Body Corporate receives no notice when a tenant is moving our and or’ a new tenant is moving in- despite the rental agent being directed by the Body Corporate and the unit owner to do this. The Body Corporate also supplies the rental agent with the Community Management statement [which includes building rules and By Laws] to be passed onto all new tenants. Due to problems with new tenants from day one’ it was discovered the Community Management statement was not being passed onto the new tenant’s. In another case’ the tenant’s were not advised or supplied with a copy of the Community Management statement until “after” the signing of the lease. Is this not non-disclosure by the rental agent ?

    1. Jason Carlson

      Hi Harry. Section 69 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 requires a agents to give a copy of the by-laws at the same time (if not before) a tenancy agreement is being signed. It is an offence to fail to comply with that obligation. If you see a particular agent consistently failing to do this, you can make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Authority. In some instances the RTA will institute complaint proceedings against agents for serious or repeated breaches. Regards, Jason.

  5. Mìke Couell

    I’ve had police come next door every month on the average. Nothing has changed, extended verbal abuse and threats as well as damage to my car
    I am powerless against drug affected tenants who display no respect for people living in the whole street. I will have a petition signed by 20 residents who deplore these people living here next door
    I wonder if that will be enough. I have mentioned the problem to owner and body corp. 6 months on I am seeing a way forward but remains desperate and victimised.

  6. Lisa Brady

    I am a tenant who has lived in my block of units for 8 years. The gardener who tends to the property has begun to use a petrol operated blower of which has a decibel level of 114 db as early as 07:20 3 x a week. The local limit in a residential area is 70-90 db. He uses this industrial blower not only in the common areas but at my units front door in the open stairwell to clean the carpet. I have repeatedly asked him to stop using the blower, I have supplied a medical certificate for my 82 year old father who is in my care and has a heart condition and Alzheimer’s with Dementia stating that loud noises affect his behaviour. Despite notifying the body corporate and their strata managers, of the continued noise breaches and explaining that this behaviour wakes my dad causing distress every time the gardeners are here nothing has been done. In fact I have been served a breach for approaching the gardener asking him to stop his work.

  7. Greg Deacon

    I am seeking advice as to an unruly guest of an owner, who continually goes against our body corporate bylaws.
    I have asked the owner and the guest to please respect the bylaws and other residents to which he replies, “that I can’t enforce them so he will do whatever he likes.”
    This has led to a number of upset residents.
    We have issued breaches but nothing has changed.
    Has the law you mentioned changed as yet and what other rights do we have as body corporate and residents? I have suggested we restrict access to the common property but I am not sure we can do this either.
    Please let me knw you thoughts?

  8. June

    I am
    In a strata unit with another unit that is doing drugs ? She has visitors arriving day and night using the common property at the back of my unit and has used aggressive behaviour towards myself. I have reported this plus pictures of cars parking on the common property but the body corporate has not acted on it . I think the BC could erect a fence around the common property and it would stop the neighbours from entering and making a nuisance plus the destruction of the common property around my unit is allowing water entering my unit when it rains so I get damage to my property. It us time the BC gets the authority to evict this type of person