A NSW lot owner is wondering whether an executive committee member has breach privacy by rumbling through rubbish bags to see who they belonged to. Leanne Habib, Premium Strata provides the following response.
Question: I left rubbish on common property for a short period of time. An executive committee member collected the bag and went through the contents to identify the owner. Is this a breach of my privacy?
I recently left a small household garbage bag on common property to run back and retrieve my entry fob.
While I was gone, someone from the executive committee collected the bag and went through its contents to try and identify the owner, which they did.
I received an email as a “friendly reminder” not to repeat the offence. I find this quite disturbing and have concerns regarding privacy implications. I fully respect the by-laws and the Act provisions but at the same time I feel that this was overzealous behaviour.
Answer: We would hope that the strata committee member simply wished to identify the owner of the rubbish to ensure compliance with the by-laws rather than to intrude into your private life.
While we are not lawyers, generally speaking, privacy is the expectation that confidential personal information disclosed in a private space will not be disclosed to third parties when that disclosure might cause eg distress, to a person of reasonable sensitivities.
Though we agree that this action was “over-zealous” in an inordinately short period of time, the question seems to be whether you expected your “garbage” to be private.
We would hope that the strata committee member simply wished to identify the owner of the rubbish to ensure compliance with the by-laws rather than to intrude into your private life and misuse information.
Have a question about breaches of privacy or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
This post appears in Strata News #332.
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These articles are not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.