COVID-next: what can strata communities learn and take forward
September 1, 2020
Cutting the cost of living (in strata) - minimising maintenance and repair costs
Cutting the cost of living (in strata) – minimising maintenance and repair costs
October 1, 2020

How to deal with bullying in your strata


Strata communities are undoubtedly unique, but they are not immune to the typical issues of society. When it comes to bullying, strata communities face issues like our workplaces in helping people work together harmoniously, even when they don’t see eye to eye.

If bullying is affecting your strata community, we hope this step by step guide will help lay out a path to overcoming conflict and getting back to harmonious living.

What does bullying in strata look like?

Bullying in a strata community is not always the same. While many cases may start in the hallways and common space of the community, bullying behaviour is not restricticted to these spaces, it also occurs in emails and phone calls.

  • Resident level – bullying between residents and neighbours in a strata community is another example of conflict that can be addressed through the powers of the strata community
  • Committee level - bullying at a committee level is an example of conflict that happens in the decision-making environment of a strata community
  • Bullying isn’t just a hypothetical scenario; it is a very real issue being faced by strata communities and we wanted to start by showing a case study of a real strata community addressing and overcoming bullying in their community

    In a recent application the Fair Work Commission by Ms A [2018] FWC 4147, a strata management company in Brisbane, was successful in obtaining an order to stop bullying behaviour from the chairperson of a strata committee. The Commission ruled that a “war engaged in by email” was not an appropriate way to raise management issues. Particularly, the use of sarcastic and derogatory language in emails, combined with the excessive amount of emails, and the publication of those exchanges to other members of the committee was unreasonable.

    Each situation is different, but rest assured that no matter the unique factors at play, the tips below will help to get you back to more harmonious times.

    Steps to de-escalating and putting a stop to bullying

    Step 1 - let your voice be heard

    Bullying can often feel like a powerless experience for the victim, but we’re here to tell you that the power lies in your hands!

    The first step is to speak out and let your voice be heard. All it takes is one person to shine a light on a problem, so take the power into your own hands! Who knows, if several people are affected by a person’s uncivil behaviour, your voice may be the catalyst to several people taking a collective step to address this behaviour in a general meeting of the owners corporation.

    At this meeting, you may seek to file a motion on the agenda that addresses bullying behaviour and amend your by-laws or building rules with this provision – aligned to federal and state laws. Make sure to keep any evidence that may help your case – pictures, emails, messages, screenshots or recordings that prove bullying or threatening behaviour is occurring. Always be respectful of an individual’s privacy.

    Of course, if your bullying situation ultimately requires urgent attention you can bring it to the notice of your strata committee immediately and urge them to address the situation.

    Step 2 – check your strata by-laws

    You have a friend in the law! Many states and territories have model by-laws that deal with offensive behaviour on common property that can be used to address bullying.

    Remember, strata by-laws aren’t for show, they are legally binding on all residents and your strata committee is legally responsible to act if a person is in breach of a by-law by acting or speaking inappropriately to another resident or owner on common property.

    If the committee fails to be able to resolve it, the matter may be taken further, such as to a state tribunal or governing body.

    Step 3 – Mediation

    If you’re having trouble resolving your issues at a community level, Mediation might be something you need to explore to have your matter taken seriously.

    Many states have organisation bodies in place that offer mediation services that have the power to address bullying issues.

    Check your specific location and see what mediation services are available to you.

    This is a great option to formalise the process and bring in a fresh set of eyes and impartiality to a situation that may be plagued by community relationships.

    Seeking further advice?

    If you wish to discuss any strata community matters further with an Ace Body Corporate manager, please do not hesitate to visit our contact page and locate your nearest Ace manager for a chat.

    Note: We note that this article is not specific advice and is deliberately general in nature.

    Ace Body Corporate Management
    Disclaimer: This is not advice and should only be referred to for general information purposes. Strata management contracts often vary, so we recommend you contact your local Ace manager for more information, or seek expert legal advice. This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients, however we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.