Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Two Lot Strata Scheme Dispute – getting some painting done

Two Lot Strata Scheme Dispute

Ros’s question relates to getting painting completed in a duplex which has led to a two lot strata scheme dispute.

I live in a duplex which is strata titled in Ryde, NSW.

My neighbour and I contribute quarterly to a joint account  to cover annual insurance and other potential expenses for the building.  We do not have regular strata meetings.  No painting or maintenance has been done to the building for 16 years and I have proposed that we spend some of the accumulated funds to have some painting done (garage doors, eaves, gutters etc), as I wish to sell my property during 2018.  To date, I have taken the following actions:

* provided my neighbour with a letter indicating that the building needs painting and that I intend to sell my property;
* obtained 3 written itemised quotes for the work and provided them to my neighbour;
* suggested to her that she gets some additional quotes if she would like, or that she agrees to meet with the painter who provided the best quote to further discuss.  The quote is for $3550 and we have almost $7500 in the joint account.

My neighbour has refused to discuss this for the past 2 weeks and gave no indication when I asked her directly if she intended to respond or participate in this process. My neighbour holds the cheque book and we co-sign for all expenses.

Can you please let me know what the rules are as such in this situation and what I can do to progress this?

Hi Ros,

Two lot strata schemes, like duplexes or semi-detached townhouses are fairly common, but they present special challenges to owners.

There being two and only two votes on every decision, voting deadlocks are more likely, with implications for dispute resolution.

Below I’ve outlined a guide for two lot scheme dispute resolution. I believe you have covered step 1 and that your next action is to seek mediation.

Read related: The Pros and Cons of Apartment Living

Two Lot Strata Scheme Dispute Resolution Process

Step 1 – Talk about it

The first step towards resolving a strata issue is to try and discuss it with the other party.

Step 2 – Mediation

If a resolution has not been able to be achieved (by talking about it), Fair Trading provides a free mediation service, which may assist in achieving a resolution.

Mediation is an informal negotiation process in which a trained and neutral mediator assists the parties achieve their own resolution. The mediator’s role is to:

  • help identify the issues in dispute and
  • assist the parties to raise and consider options and strategies by which the issues may be addressed.

You can download the Application for Mediation form from the Fair Trading website.

Read the Strata and community mediation page on the NSW Fair Trading website for more information.

Your issue is quite straight forward, and I’d imagine that mediation would bring about an acceptable outcome.

The biggest challenge with mediation is getting the other party to agree to attend a session. If mediation fails because of non-attendance or otherwise, the next step is the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

Step 3 – The Tribunal

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) is a specialist, independent, low cost tribunal for the fair and timely resolution of disputes according to law. Disputes are resolved at a hearing and are legally binding on both parties.

You can download the Application here

Read related: Common Property works lands in the Supreme Court

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