Apartment Living: Promises, promises …


By Jimmy Thomson

Another year has rolled around and you still haven’t got to grips with living in your block? You’ve got issues, but who hasn’t?  And you have something to contribute – but who’s got the time?

Well, without getting all Pollyanna about things, if half the people in your building did some small thing to make it a better place to live, then everybody’s lives would be better and that isn’t going to hurt property prices.

Ah – now I’ve got your attention!  So here are 12 New Year resolutions for you that will make your little corner of the world a better place to live.

  1. Do something nice for a neighbour whenever you get the chance. Help them with their groceries or garbage or just ask them how their day’s going. It’ll make you both feel better.
  2. Put up a sign on your notice board offering your services as … well … whatever you can do. If you can fix computers or program DVD recorders or walk dogs, you will become the most popular person in the building.
  3. Complain. Seriously, if something has been bugging you – like a noisy neighbour, barking dog or a parking thief – don’t assume that everybody else knows about it and has already complained.  Maybe they are like you and they’re waiting for someone else to pick up the phone and have a whinge.
  4. Stop complaining. If everything and everyone in your building upsets you, you are probably living in the wrong place. But if those issues aren’t bad enough to make you want to move home or pursue a complaint through official channels, it’s probably time to shut up and get on with your life. Either learn to live with the things you can’t change or change the way you live.  It’s really as simple as that.
  5. Show up. Promise to attend your Annual General Meeting, just to see what’s going on. Like it says on the tin, it’s annual – only one evening a year – so do it.
  6. Vote wisely. If you don’t go yourself, don’t give your proxy vote blindly to the chairman, secretary or whoever is going around begging for votes. Find someone in the building who IS going and who shares your views and give your vote to them. Blind proxy voting is lazy and anti-democratic and leads to autocratic strata fascists whose main concernebecomes holding on to power rather than doing the right thing. That’s why proxy harvesting is about to be made illegal in NSW.
  7. Attend at least one Executive Committee meeting – just to find out how it works and for them to know you are there.
  8. Get involved. Everybody should be on their executive committee for at least one term – if only to discover what it’s like to be on the receiving end of angry complaints from people who DON’T get involved. But really, you probably have more to offer than you realise.
  9. Get out of the way. If you are on your EC and only turn up for half the meetings or even fewer, move over and let someone who gives a damn have a go. If you are only there to protect your own interests, and don’t really give a flying fax about other people’s problems, that’s even worse. Go. Leave. Resign. You will not be missed.
  10. Read your by-laws. If you are an owner, they’ll be at the back of the sales contract.  If you are a tenant, the law says your landlord should have given you a set.  You’ll be amazed at the things you are allowed to do, as well as possibly surprised by the things you aren’t.  By the way, if they are not by-laws or part of strata law, none of the petty rules and restrictions imposed by your neighbours apply.
  11. Think. There is an element of give and take in apartment living. But while you might expect to hear noise from an occasional party, just because you live in a flat doesn’t mean you have the right to re-enact Woodstock every weekend. Those tiles you put down without permission will only drive your downstairs neighbours mad until your owners corp forces you to recarpet at your expense. Those concealed speakers and giant sub-woofers in your surround sound may make you feel like you are at the cinema, but it will make the people above, below and around you feel like calling the cops (which they can do). So if you don’t want your “{castle” to be permanently under siege, spare a though for the effect your actions have on others.
  12. Enjoy the fact that you are living close to where you want to be with all the convenience and community that entails. And the next time a house-hobbit says “I wouldn’t live in a unit for quids” smile and reply “That’s OK, mate.  We don’t want you.”

Ask your question about the ins and outs of apartment living on the Flat Chat Forum.

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