Dealing with a problem neighbour

17/11/2011


Question: Two years ago I bought a flat in the suburbs of Melbourne as an owner occupier. My flat is in a block of 12. I notice from the owners’ corporation that one of the flats is commission housing. Coincidentally the tenant of the commission house flat is very much a nuisance, and it’s not just myself but other owners of flats on the block think likewise.

I have tried to contact the manager who is responsible for this property in the Department of Human Services, however I have found this to be unsuccessful. There have been complaints made in the Annual Report about this tenant, which include noise, domestic violence and other misdemeanour's.

Personally I would like to get this house to become privately owned, and hopefully get a higher quality tenant there.

Answer: I am sorry that you are in the middle of an unpleasant experience with your neighbour. No-one deserves to have their life disrupted or to feel unsafe due to the actions of someone living nearby. Unfortunately your situation is too common and it is not easy to resolve these issues quickly.

On a positive note, tenancy laws are in place to protect you and people who break the rules can be evicted from the property to allow you to enjoy your neighbourhood uninterrupted. You should talk with your owners’ corporation. They should take up this issue on your behalf and put pressure on the property manager, in this case the government department, to fix the problem.

If you are suffering, some of your other neighbours will be too, so the owners’ corporation will be bound to do everything possible to remedy your problems, even if that means taking the tenant to the relevant tenancy tribunal which in Victoria is the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The owners’ corporation will have rules which apply to your block and everyone who lives there must abide by these rules, regardless of whether they are a tenant or an owner occupier.

One of the rules is certain to be that residents are entitled to quiet enjoyment of their property and anyone who prevents you from that enjoyment will be in breach of the owners’ corporation rules and action can be taken against them.

In Victoria, breach notices can be issued against unruly tenants and after receiving three breach notices, the tenant can be ordered out of the property, even if that means taking them to the tribunal.

If you feel unsafe because of the tenant’s behaviour, if the noise is late at night or if you believe their actions are illegal you should contact the police.

I suggest you keep a log of the date, time and type of anti-social behaviour you experience, report every example to the owners’ corporation and encourage your neighbours to do the same.

These processes take time and it could be months before the tenancy laws can be used to evict the tenant. It means that you will have to endure some unsavoury experiences and you will have to make an effort to compile evidence against the tenant, but the owners’ corporation should take up the fight for you and if the tenant continues to be a nuisance they can be removed from your life. 

  • Answer provided by Rob Farmer, CEO of RUN Property (www.run.com.au)

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