We recently received the following question from a lot owner about Bullying and Harassment in their small strata scheme. Stuart Mellington, Select OwnersCorp Management has provided the following response.
Question: One Lot Owner in our small scheme is making life unbearable with bullying and harassment of the other residents. Sending up to a dozen emails in a day and sometimes becoming physically threatening. What do we do?
We are a small body corporate committee of three members, two who are owner/occupiers.
There is an owner/occupier in the block of units who is very proactive and making suggestions on how the money should be spent on the garden, and only supports maintenance activities which benefit them only. If we do not reply to them immediately or action their suggestions, we are met with abuse and calls of incompetence.
It is not unusual to receive up to a dozen emails in one day, which commence with the idea then escalate to demands for action and then abuse.
If the committee does not agree to action an idea, they call the strata management group to complain. If we action the idea, but they were not involved directly with making the purchase (for example) they are never satisfied with the result and emails or bullying and harassing us by knocking on our doors, or we receive numerous phone calls and voice mail messages.
Some committee members are scared of this lot owner and tend to give in to their demands in order to “keep the peace”, despite it only lasting a week or so. This is constant and has resulted in us all hating to live at the units.
Over the last 5 years, we have had to deal with a variety of bizarre, over the top behaviour. The situation has sometimes even been physical and dangerous.
We have held dispute resolution meetings with them in the past after they refused to accept the resolutions provided against her complaints.
Are we able to install and action a bylaw again bullying and harassment? If so, what is the reasonable number of emails, or can we apply for a stop-bullying order even though we are all volunteers?
Answer: This bullying and harassment behaviour is totally unacceptable and a lesson must be provided to the activist owner.
This behaviour is totally unacceptable and a lesson must be provided to the activist owner.
I might suggest a reference to the Owners Corporation Act in regards the proper procedures with respect to the rights and obligations of the individual owners with an emphasis on the fact the Owners Corporation is bigger than the individuals that comprise the mini democratic community. That is to say, the majority rules not the interests of one person.
Once this has been clarified, then extend the troublesome owner’s education with particular reference to the functions of the committee wherein once elected the committee can resolve anything the Owners Corporation can other than those issues requiring a Special or Unanimous resolution. It also requires them to act in the best interests of all owners and MUST not act such that it benefits one owner or themselves.
It is, therefore, a breach to act in a manner that is dictated to them by individuals.
It would be hoped that in clarifying appropriate procedures and then issuing them a statement in regards acceptable conduct that may include that the committee is only going to recognise one email or communication per week (excluding any emergency) that their behaviour may be curtailed to a more acceptable level.
The committee will need to be firm and united in restricting any communications or responses to them until such time that they modify their behaviour.
Informing their strata manger of the rules and seeking their assistance in enforcing compliance, should further problems arise, will assist.
This post appears in Strata News #175.
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This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.