4.15 Dealing with difficult owners | Owners Corporation Network

4.15 Dealing with difficult owners

If you find yourself wondering how to deal with a difficult owner firstly ask yourself are you a difficult executive committee or executive committee member? Do you know your obligations and responsibilities? Do you understand the rights of owners and residents? Are you concerned with a fair hearing for everyone’s individual issues or just those that affect you or that you agree with? If you can answer these honestly in the positive then you will likely be able to deal with difficult owners’ with frivolous and legitimate issues well - as you are not trying to protect you own interests.

There are however circumstances where other owners (on the executive committee or not) have a barrow to push and they will play any number of games to ‘win’. This ‘win’ could be detrimental to the building’s future or other owners’ interests and so needs to be carefully managed. When things get nasty in a building they can get very nasty. Defamation, threats, anonymous emails, AVO’s, mail drops, lift signs, and vandalism. People stop talking and start gossiping and fighting, get entrenched in positions and life becomes miserable. So what do you do? As with a difficult executive committee member do not get distracted from the task at hand which is to make the best decisions for the majority of the owners corporation. Patiently hear the complaint out and address the concerns as well as you are able, specifying your decisions and the reasons. You just might clear up a misunderstanding or resentment by really being willing to hear the owner’s story.

Ignoring or avoiding complaints can be costly and time consuming in the long run

An owner in a two strata residential complex had consistently complained that the roof hot water tank was making unacceptable noise at night. His partner was especially disturbed by this at night as she had been seriously ill for a long period. The owner lived in the other strata than the one who had the responsibility for the tank strata whose responsibility for the tank. The responsible strata did not solve the problem and only eventually replaced it when it broke down. The owner is now suing both strata’s for multiple million dollar compensation for the detrimental impact on himself and his wife’s in her last years. If more care and concern was made, a costly legal suit may have been avoided.