This Q&A about the best to handle a false accusation of a privacy breach has been answered by Andrew Terrell, Bright & Duggan.
Question: Our sensor has been mistaken for a camera and the Owners Corporation has falsely accused us of filming neighbours. We have found this very upsetting. What is the best way to resolve this issue?
Around 8 years ago we received approval to put a tiny 1/2 inch sensor above our front door to activate our remote control door.
Our current strata committee and strata manager are harassing and sending us emails to remove the sensor. They have taken photos and are making allegations that we are using the device to take photos. They are referring to the sensor as a camera and have accused us of taking photos of children in their swimmers in the pool, which is not even in the path of this sensor.
We don’t live at the premises and only visit once in the blue moon to just air out our units. No one lives there. We have found the whole matter very upsetting. The sensor is a luxury item which is useful and has meaning for us, but no one else.
Answer: The allegations should be responded to in writing by the owner noting exactly what the sensor is and that further unfounded accusations will constitute harassment.
How was the original approval for the sensor given? This sounds like something that could be considered under the changes to common property by-law – relevant parts highlighted below:
2 Changes to common property
(1) An owner or person authorised by an owner may install, without the consent of the owners corporation:
(a) any locking or other safety device for protection of the owner’s lot against intruders or to improve safety within the owner’s lot, or
(b) any screen or other device to prevent entry of animals or insects on the lot, or
(c) any structure or device to prevent harm to children.
(2) Any such locking or safety device, screen, other device or structure must be installed in a competent and proper manner and must have an appearance, after it has been installed, in keeping with the appearance of the rest of the building.
(3) Clause (1) does not apply to the installation of any thing that is likely to affect the operation of fire safety devices in the lot or to reduce the level of safety in the lots or common property.
(4) The owner of a lot must:
(a) maintain and keep in a state of good and serviceable repair any installation or structure referred to in clause (1) that forms part of the common property and that services the lot, and
(b) repair any damage caused to any part of the common property by the installation or removal of any locking or safety device, screen, other device or structure referred to in clause (1) that forms part of the common property and that services the lot.
The allegations should be responded to in writing by the owner, noting exactly what the sensor is (ideally supplying the specifications which show that it’s not a camera/incapable of doing what has been accused), that the allegations are serious and that further unfounded accusations constitute harassment and that mediation might need to called for should the matter not be promptly resolved.
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This post appears in Strata News #233
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