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The Most Petty Strata Feuds And Nightmare By-Laws Revealed

From one resident having exclusive access to the lift to another needing strata to approve his instrument -- here are some weird and whacky strata laws that govern the way some Aussies live.

Some of the time it makes sense: keeping the place looking neat and tidy, not being a pain in the neck to your neighbours, agreeing to not get naked in the community pool, that kind of thing. Normal stuff.

Then there are other times, when by-laws and seemingly power-hungry body corporates can make life a living hell -- or at the very least, a pain in the neck.

"What you have to remember is that strata committees are generally run by people who don't necessarily have legal training and are unpaid volunteers," strata lawyer Matthew Jenkins told 10 daily.

"Therefore, you name it, they think they can justify a by-law about it."
The Elevator For One
Only one person is allowed to use the elevator in the building, meaning everyone else has to use the stairs. Photo: Supplied.

A four-level apartment block in Sydney's Lower North Shore has a strata by-law that says just one unit is allowed to use the elevator.

The owner of the unit with lift access is "entitled to exclusive use and enjoyment of the lift", the strata agreement reads, provided they keep the lift clean and maintained.

This is despite the lift stopping at every floor. Other residents are simply forced to use the stairs instead, even when moving heavy furniture in and out of the building.

One resident told 10 daily that the owner of the unit with lift access treats her neighbours like everyone is living on her property, which is simply not the case. Spoiler: they don't like it.

The Tone Deaf Strata

A prospective buyer for a Melbourne unit was recently put off by a unit on the basis of its by-laws alone.

While a number of stricter-than-usual by-laws around rubbish, gardening and common areas were off-putting, it was the rules around practising a musical instrument that sealed the deal -- or lack-there-of.

"Musical instruments and band practises will impact the quiet enjoyment of all lots on the plan and require the permission from the committee before making any commitments," the by-laws state, which have been seen by 10 daily.

"Permissions will be considered provided that a rehearsal / practise timetable is provided and adhered to."

The would-be owner told 10 daily that as a musician, it completely put her off living there, and that it painted the entire body corporate as "uptight and joyless".

RIP to that sale.

The Damaged Driveway Kerfuffle
Some of the damage to the driveway, which owners will have to pay to fix. Photos: Supplied.

Owners of a three-unit apartment block in Western Australia spent nearly $7,000 a few years ago to widen their shared driveway, so it was particularly irksome to recently find it had been significantly damaged.

The situation is still ongoing, but one of the owners told 10 daily that it appeared the tenants in one of the units had driven -- multiple times -- into the shared wall along the driveway.

On top of that, they'd broken tiles and piping along the driveway by quite literally driving over them.

The rental agents had not included the shared wall and driveway area in the inspection as it was "not part of the property", and it looks like all three owners will be slugged with the cost of repairs.

READ MORE: Rental Horror Stories To Be Stopped By New Tenant Laws

READ MORE: Australian Housing Bubble Could Pop, Expert Says

The Super Nosy Neighbours
How many of us have secretly kept pets? Photo: Getty.

Many of us go a bit mad for our pets, but a Sydney woman who snuck a cat into her apartment found out the hard way her neighbours did not see eye-to-eye.

The woman and her cat were chilling in the sun-room of her apartment ("looking at the birds out the window", she told 10 daily), when two men standing in the garden some four storeys below spotted them.

"Twenty minutes later I got a call from the real estate agent as one of the men was the building owner," she said.

"I had to pretend he was a toy and then sneak him in and out every time we had an inspection."

The Grinch Of The Gold Coast

Residents of an apartment block in the Gold Coast have been told by managers to take down Christmas lights, citing a bylaw where hanging "washing, towels, bedding or clothing" affects the appearance of the building.

One man, who has lived in the building for four years, told the Gold Coast Bulletin that it was the first time he'd been told to take the festive display down.

"It goes against everything this time of year is all about," Nigel McDowell told the publication.

"It makes it hard to get excited."

This unusual enforcement of the rules reportedly comes after one couple in the block of a hundred units complained, but McDowell said he's exploiting a body corporate loophole in order to keep the decorations up.

What can you even do about petty or over-the-top by-laws?

The first and most obvious option is to seek to have the by-laws amended or repealed, Jenkins told 10 daily.

In order to do so, you need to attend a general meeting and obtain a special resolution, which means that no more than 25 percent of the unit entitlements can vote against you.

"In effect, you need 75 percent of those people who are in attendance voting in your favour," he said.

Failing that, and you might be looking at a mediation or tribunal process.

The good news -- for NSW at least -- is that strata reform from late 2016 brought new provisions against by-laws deemed "harsh, unconscionable or oppressive". It means some of the more unusual by-laws might not hold up, although this hasn't been subject to much testing.

The other good news? The tribunal is fairly pet friendly these days, so fur baby lovers rejoice.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Supplied