Learning to live in apartments

Michael Teys
Michael Teys

LOVE it or hate it, residential strata title living is here to stay.

It is estimated that within 20 years, half of Sydney's population will live in strata property.

While Newcastle might be behind capital cities in terms of strata development, there is no doubt it will continue to be one of the fastest growing forms of development here too, with a raft of CBD apartment buildings either in the wings or currently under construction.

Yet it is not a new concept. Strata was introduced to manage Australia's multi-dwelling property 50 years ago. With the growth in strata developments, how will strata residents and strata property owners cope in the next 50 years?

That is a key question in a new book called Growing Up: How strata title bodies might learn to behave.

Written by strata expert Michael Teys, the book aims to help strata communities and the owner corporations who run them think about the issues they face now and into the future.

Teys paints some typical scenarios through the chapters that look at key principles of strata ownership such as learning to share, learning to be understood, learning to be responsible and learning to be focused.

Anyone who has ever attended a strata meeting and analysed some of the more difficult personalities who present themselves at such gatherings will relate to those first four chapters, no doubt.

Then he focuses on getting down to business in the following chapters, which come with no-nonsense subheads such as learning to be compliant, transparent, reasonable, inclusive, discreet and, finally, learning to be sustainable.

In Chapter 1, Learning to Share, Teys gets straight to the point when he describes some common issues that arise when long-term housing dwellers make the transition to an apartment, such as how loud is too loud when it comes to music, who over-filled the recycling bins, and visitors parking in designated resident spaces.

"In suburbia there are fewer rules," Teys writes.

"We do what we want, when we want, within reason. Our contact with our neighbours is pleasant because we don't share a thing except a street name.

"But we have left that all behind for the convenience of apartment living. No lawns. No gutters. Just a balcony and four walls."

Teys maintains strata occupants have to learn to deal with the awkwardness of living with others.

He finishes with a chapter on learning to be sustainable and provides real-life examples of where savings have been made by adopting greener technology in strata buildings.

Teys closes with the following sage statement which sums up what is a great, yet plain English read: "The developer that cares, the solicitor who explains, the strata manager who listens and the government that's fair all make a difference to this increasingly common and necessary way of living, but it's the strata entities that handle things that go wrong that are successful and make for happy places to live."

Growing Up: How strata title bodies might learn to behave is released through Major Street Publishing.