One often reads after a particular gruesome murder, “oh, they were such nice people,” followed by, “they kept very much to themselves and were so quiet!” Nothing like a gruesome murder has eventuated in our small compound, but I would not totally give up on the possibility. We are as nice and quiet as the best of them!
Readers might remember the little stoush with our body corporate when a Melbourne based painting contractor was almost engaged to re-paint the exterior of our set of eight ‘strata-titled’ town houses. ‘Strata-title’ is a bit like community form of ownership and Melbourne is thousand kilometres from here. All the owners were delighted with the plan. We were not. There was no money. The idea of re-painting wasn’t mentioned in the minutes of the annual meeting. Why engage a contractor so far away? Why just accept a single quote? Where was the money coming from?
I questioned it, but amazingly did not get much response from the other owners. The colours were decided and the painters were already walking around confidently. Scrapers and brushes at the ready, ladders taken from the vans. When I found out that the Melbourne contractor had agreed to take payments over a number of years, I really became the stroppy gander. I contacted the appropriate Government body regulating Strata Corporations. A stop work order was issued. The owners were cranky with us.
In the mean-time I took time off and obtained three quotes from local painting contractors, organized the copy of those quotes to all owners and the Strata management. Grumpily, an extraordinary meeting was called and even then the Melbourne contractor was to remain. It was only when I (triumphantly tapping away on my laptop) produced a letter from the NSW’s Dept. of Fair Trading that no work could be carried out without adequate money in the ‘sinking fund’ that they knew the game was up.
The acceptance of one of the local contractors was reluctantly accepted. The shortfall in money was to be corrected by raising an extra levy of one thousand dollar per owner. However, and this puzzles us. The rancour is still hanging around. The local contractor’s quote was twelve thousand dollars cheaper than the Melbourne’s mob and came highly qualified. I have to mention that after a Google search on the Melbourne contractor, it was discovered they were involved in a Court case of having underpaid their employees by over seventy thousand dollars. Hardly a good omen!
Now. It would be nice to understand the reason for the unfriendliness. I suspect that, like many Australians appear to suffer from, the going into debt doesn’t seem to worry most. Was it the coughing up the extra one thousand dollars that rankled? Was this, and the pointing out of this abysmal lack of due diligence by the body corporate AND the home-owners from ‘outsiders’ ( bloody Euro-sceptics) also oil to the fire of their discontent.
Anyway, some of the neighbours are actually renting from the stroppy owners and are a lot nicer people in everyday dealings with, ‘good morning, how’s your day? The local contractor is from Iranian background and great to deal with. Even so, we were put last by the chair-person of the body corporate committee ( a local owner) to get our place painted which will now probably happen towards the winter.
And … at the next annual general meeting I will insist on an independent audit of the books. I smell a rat.
But, who cares? We are nice and quiet, just normal really.