DiscoverFLAT CHAT WRAP
FLAT CHAT WRAP

FLAT CHAT WRAP

Author: Jimmy Thomson & Sue Williams

Subscribed: 10Played: 262
Share

Description

All about living in apartments (condos), from dealing with your committee to getting on with neighbours and - a dose of healthy skepticism about dubious developers.
119 Episodes
Reverse
People who don't care about pets in apartments shouldn't switch off just yet, regardless of how bored you are with the whole issue. It has implications for everyone in apartments, whether you have pets or not, as you may discover when your upstairs neighbour starts stomping around on their new, cheap timber floor. Letting ourselves off the leash this week, we also explore why Sydney's rents are going down a lot in some areas but up even more in others. Listen Here And we look at the fuel of the future and ask why we aren't pumping money itnto its development right now. But first we ask strata lawyer David Sachs of Sachs Gerace Lawyers, what are the far-reaching consequences of the Appeals Court decision last week in the case between Jo Cooper and the Owners Corporation of the Horizon building in Sydney - that have nothing to do with pets. Basically speaking, the NSW Court of Appeal ruled that Owners Corporations can't pass by-laws about what an owner does or has in their apartment if it doesn't impact on other owners' right to peaceful enjoyment of their lot. More to the point, there are remedies in strata law to pull owners into line if they get it wrong so pre-emptive by-laws that assume the worst are considered "harsh, discriminatory and unconscionable" and therefore invalid. What does that mean for other by-laws? We ask David the following questions in our podcast chat this week: Does the Court of Appeal ruling mean all no-pet bylaws are now defunct?Can buildings still impose restrictions on the type and size of pets?Can they ban pets from common property?Can they require owners to carry pets across common property?What implications does the ruling have for other by-laws?Will we expect more issues to be taken to NCAT e.g. when pets turn out to be a nuisance?Is NCAT up to handling an increased load of (predictably) emotional and contentious cases.Will the definition of "nuisance" need to be redefined in the current review of strata law. David's answers are authoritative and enlightening and he also takes time to support the people we routinely lambast in these pages - the NCAT Members who sit in judgement on our trails and tribulations. After that, Sue gives us a roundup of the areas of Sydney that are winning and losing on the rental roller-coaster ... and why. And Jimmy is talking trains that produce steam but run on an altogether cleaner fuel than coal. The Podcast transcribed Jimmy and Sue's dulcet tones transcribed for those who can't or prefer not to listen. They are joined by strata lawyer David Sachs. Be warned: This was transcribed by a soul-less American computer and edited by a grumpy Scot. But it still makes more sense than a Donald Trump diatribe. Jimmy  00:00 Got a post on the Flat Chat Forum this week from Jo Cooper ... name ring a bell? Sue  00:09 The owner of Angus, the now-legal dog in the Horizon building, and it's a Schnauzer. Jimmy  00:14 Yep, and basically, she was writing to tell me that I'm wrong. Because I said that there should be apartment blocks that people can go to. Even though I'm pro-pet, I believe that there should be apartment blocks that people can go and live in, who really don't want to live in the same building as pets. She said you can't have that. Because buildings have to allow support animals like guide dogs. And the law says you can't forbid them. So all it takes is one person to bring in a support animal and that whole argument about people's health and allergies and things goes out the window. Anyway, so it's been pets, pets, pets all week ever since that ruling at the Appeals Court. So this week, we have a special guest, David Sachs from Sachs Gerace Lawyers, who has a pretty interesting take on what that appeal court decision means not just about pets, but about by-laws in general. I'm Jimmy Thomson. Sue And I'm Sue Williams … Jimmy And this is the Flat Chat Wrap.
The big strata news of this week stopped us in our tracks. The NSW Court of Appeals has overturned a decision by the strata tribunal (NCAT) which, earlier this year, ruled that strata schemes could create "no pets" by-laws. Just to be clear, NCAT last year twice ruled that no-pet by-laws were illegal, then the NCAT Appeals Board overturned those decisions, then the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, overturned the Appeals Board decision. So now, in short, NSW strata schemes can't ban pets. The podcast was all set, edited and ready to go when the news came in so we plugged the mike back in, cranked up the recording software and had a chat about what this means to pets and by-laws in general in NSW and elswhere in Australia. You can also read an extensive commentary and find a link to the full news story HERE. After that, we go back to our original podcast which is on totally different subjects - websites and web designers. This chat was partly inspired by revamps of two websites that are very close to us - the OCN's new look and Sue's own website. We chat to Owners Corporation Network's Executive Officer Karen Stiles about what they were hoping to achieve in the revamp of OCN's website - accessibility, authority and clarity seem to be major factors. And then Sue tells us about her new book Healing Lives which was the impetus for giving her own website a major do-over - click on the link and see for yourself. All this plus James Comey, Donald Trump and JimmyT's obsession with bathroom sinks in this week's podcast. Listen Here Listening is by far the best way to enjoy the pod, but if you aren’t a podder, or are hearing impaired, you can read the transcript of this episode a little further down this page. However, be warned, it was transcribed by a computer in America – “by-laws" become "BIOS" – then edited by an an over-caffeinated Celt. We caught most of what was lost in translation, but this is an informal chat – with tangent, upon aside, upon lateral thought – that makes a Donald Trump speech read like Shakespeare.  But it's fun. Enjoy! Flat Chat 95: Transcribed Jimmy  00:00 We were just about to lock off this podcast and put it to bed for the week, when an amazing piece of news came in, what was it, Sue? Sue  00:10 Well, the long running battle over pets and apartments, it had gone through NCAT a couple of times in New South Wales, and then it had gone to the New South Wales Court of Appeal. And everybody expected that the Court of Appeal would say that it's okay for buildings to ban pets if they want to ban pets with their by-laws. But an extraordinary ruling on Monday, the court ruled that a blanket ban on pets is unconscionable, oppressive and harsh. And therefore no building should be allowed to have a blanket ban on pets Jimmy  00:43 So does that mean that it's any apartment block anywhere in Australia you can now take your pet in? Sue  00:51 In New South Wales, New South Wales everywhere you can take a pet in, which is quite incredible has turned everything on its head. And it really has I mean, lots of people are pretty upset. Lots of people are really happy. And as the dust settles, we'll see what's going to happen in the future. But really, now there's only one level of appeal left, and that's to the High Court of Australia, in Canberra. Jimmy And that would be really expensive to lodge an appeal to them. Sue Absolutely. So one would kind of imagine that is possible. This final ruling is it, at least for the time being because as we're talking on this podcast about the strata review that's happening, the strata law, it could well be that people will now lobby the New South Wales parliament to introduce new legislation to allow bylaws to ban pets. And that's always a possibility as well, whether Parliament want to get involved. So you'd have to be a specific law saying the rules for pets are different.
It’s a bit of a Budget special on Flat Chat this week, if only because we are talking about money. Specifically we are discussing the personal taxes that you probably didn’t even know you are supposed to pay when your strata scheme starts making a profit.  And we'll discuss where to get dough when your strata schemes needs a lot of it in a hurry. To which end, we have a chat with Paul Morton, CEO of our long-time sponsors Lannock Finance. Along the way we’ll touch on why the Australian Tax Office would rather treat you as an individual than a member of a corporationhow it can cost more in real terms to pay cash up front rather than get a loanwhy footballers aren't working as hard as they once didwhat happens when the instructor knows your name in the gym and how potential purchasers are viewing properties in these viral days. You can hear all that by clicking on the play button below.  Listening is by far the best way to enjoy the pod, but if you aren’t a podder, you can read the transcript of this episode a little further down this page. However, be warned, it was transcribed by a computer in America – “strata loan” becomes “straddle on” – then edited by an irritable Scot . We caught most of what was lost in translation, but grammar is one of the first things to go in informal chats, quickly followed by logical progression.  Even so, somehow it  all comes together. Enjoy! Transcribed: Flat Chat 94 Money, Money Money Jimmy  00:00 This week we're talking about money Sue  00:02 Good subject. Jimmy  00:04 Well, talking about it doesn't mean we have it. That's wishful thinking.  Specifically it’s mainly about tax and a column I wrote for the Fin Review this weekend, which I think is going to cause a bit of a stir. Sue Oh, how unusual that you're being controversial.   Jimmy No, I just can't help myself. People say I’m a troublemaker. I like to think of myself as a problem solver. Sue  00:31 Or disrupter, I suppose suddenly becomes more respectable. Jimmy But you know, a problem solver,  to the person who is the problem, is a troublemaker. It's all relative. And we will be talking to Paul Morton of Lannock Finance, about some of the ins and outs of borrowing money, because we had those stories about the building that borrowed money to do the upgrade. I'm Jimmy Thomson. Sue I'm Sue Williams Jimmy And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. Donald the Dodger Jimmy  01:15 It's very hard to make tax interesting. I've discovered. Sue  01:19 It is, unless it's a tax rebate, Jimmy  01:22 Or unless you're telling people they are about to get taxed for something you didn't even know you were liable for Sue  01:30 Tax is actually a bit more sexy at the moment, isn't it? Because I think we've all been fascinated by the stories about Donald Trump only paying $750 in tax. Suddenly, tax seems so much more interesting than it did before. Jimmy  01:44 But he is a is an icon of the new morality that exists. You know, when we were growing up, basically, there was good and bad. And there were things that you were supposed to do. And, and you did mostly, and over the years that has evolved into what can I get away with? He's spoken about getting away with tax and not having to serve in the army. We should call him Donald the Dodger. Because he's a draft Dodger, and he's a tax Dodger. And now he's could be a Covid Dodger. That remains to be seen.  But he’s a mask Dodger. Tax Factor Sue  02:31 Jimmy, that's not what we're talking about. In the old days, we always said the two things you can't get away with are death and taxes. Yeah, but you can actually get away with taxes. Yes. And possibly you can get away with death sometimes. Jimmy  02:44 Well, you might delay it. Sue  02:46 Okay. Jimmy  02:48 Unless the people that you owe money to decide that they don't want you to get away with it.
This week's podcast is all about wheel-clamping, email privacy and the amazing legacy of the Sydney Olympics athletes' village. But one of the biggest pieces of news this week is about the podcast itself or, more to the point, these show notes. As we approach our 100th edition, and following numerous requests from readers who don't listen to podcasts, we have finally discovered a program that will use Artificial Intelligence to transcribe the audio into text. Now, AI can only do so much with variations of Australian, Scottish and English accents, so it does require a bit of work to knock it into shape. Then there are the interruptions, half-formed thoughts, digressions and repetitions - not to mention umms, aaahs and other verbal punctuations - that you don't realise form part of your everyday speech until you see them laid out before you on a page. We've done our best to filter out the intrusions but I hope you get the sense of the discussions and the flavour of the podcast in this lightly tweaked and fairly raw form. Meanwhile, for those of you who prefer to listen, here's this week's podcast, where Sue and I talk about her story on the 2000 Olympic athletes' village, now a very desirable suburb. Then we are joined by Karen Stiles, Executive Officer of the Owners Corporation Network, to discuss the push to keep apartment owners' email addresses secret, and demands for a return of wheel clamping for rogue parkers. Listen Here You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the "play" button below. If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link above. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Enjoy. Transcript: This podcast in print  Jimmy: Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the Sydney Olympics. Sue  Oh, wow. It sure is. I mean, it's interesting when we're getting this documentary now about Cathy Freeman.   Lots of posts about it. Eric the Eel? Yes. And um,   the memories come flooding back. But it does feel only about a couple years ago.     Jimmy: Then you realize there’s been three or four other Olympics since then. But I was reminded, funnily enough, and these days of COVID going to the station to get in a train and finding that a certain time of night when it's going to be busy, the make you go round in a one way system through in and out the stations when people aren't bumping into each other facing each other. And that reminded me of at the Olympic Stadium, where they had a one way system for people to walk around. And you could see the gate that you wanted to get into about about 20 yards away. But you had to walk another half a mile around the system to get to that gate, but it worked.   It worked tremendously well. So you're going to be talking in a minute about what happened to the buildings that they built for the athletes.   The Olympic Village. And we're going to be talking to  Karen: Stiles of OCN about email addresses and clamping illegally parked cars. I'm  Jimmy: Thomson.  Sue: And I'm  Sue Williams.  Jimmy: And this is the Flat Chat Wrap. Olympic village now sought-after suburb Jimmy:  Sue, you've done a story this week about the accommodation that was built for the Sydney Olympics. Sue:  Yes, I went out to Newington this week, for the first time ever. It was during the Olympics, I covered the Olympics, for the Sydney Morning Herald the Melbourne age out of Sydney Olympic Park and the big media center. But we were never allowed to go to the athletes village because obvi...
It’s another big week on the podcast front with a lot of serious – and not so serious – issues to discuss. First up we look at this story about how the radical renovation of unused storage space in a Bondi block has allowed the owners to upgrade the whole 1930s building with new electrics, plumbing, roof, balconies and terraces. This, we learn, is what the other side of the “forced sale” laws allowed – a majority of owners to make the most of their collective assets and give their 90-year-old building a whole new lease of life. Ban the pet ban Then we chat to UNSW Associate Professor Dr Cathy Sherry – one of our eminent thinkers in the realm of strata law – about why she wrote an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, supporting moves to ban by-laws that ban pets. It’s a wide-ranging discussion that goes from the fundamentals of liberal democracy to negative gearing, via Feudalism, Utilitarianism, assistance animals, company title, build-to-rent and Airbnb. Cathy argues that despite the serious health and religious issues that genuinely affect some apartment residents, we can’t legally prevent assistance animals from being resident in apartment blocks so the idea that we can ban companion animals is based on a fallacy. What it comes down to is that people don’t have an inviolable right to live in apartments, so their rights are not being impinged by laws that say apartment blocks don’t have the right to ban animals. Or something like that … It’s not as simple as that – it never is in strata – but we discuss the possibility that, if no-pets by-laws are banned,  there could soon be an upsurge in interest in company title buildings where the “board” can set its own rules that are not affected by strata law. Moving on from pets, Cathy explains why she is dead-set against build-to-rent apartments, even the really nice ones, saying we need to get rid of negative gearing so that “mum and dad” property investors aren’t competing against their kids, pushing the price of homes out of their reach. Lonely kids And finally in our Hey Marthas, Sue has found a story that says families that move into big houses where every kid has their own room – even their own bathroom – could be missing the point.  Economics researcher Michael Dockery says kids in large family houses with their own rooms could be suffering social isolation and even loneliness. Learning to share and tolerate others’ foibles is an important social skill that our kids are less likely to acquire if they are allowed to lock themselves away in their rooms, playing their own computer games and going God-knows-where on the Internet. Just another reason why apartment living is good for kids. Meanwhile Jimmy takes a look at the building in Sydney’s Haymarket locked in a six-way stand-off over flammable cladding. You can read all about it here and listen to our thoughts on all these issues just by scrolling down this page. Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link near the top of these show notes. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Enjoy.
We have one of our longest ever Flat Chat Wrap podcasts this week, but it’s all good so brace yourselves, pace yourselves and buckle up for some interesting material from our multitude of guests (well, three, to be exact). First there is the redoubtable Karen Stiles who is the Executive Officer at the Owners Corporation Network (OCN) and, as such, has a seat at the table for some of the most critical discussions being made about NSW strata in decades. Karen has come on to the podcast to explain how Building Commissioner David Chandler has the power (and is using it) to enter newly completed blocks that are still under warranty and then order the builders or developers to fix the defects. One developer has already heard the hard word and is considering their options, while another has "surrender tackled" and is just getting on with fixing things And what if they refuse?  The Commissioner's plan to stop future defects will see problem developers identified early by calculating an agglomeration of bad history and previous use of poorly performing certifiers, architects, engineers and builders. They will then come under severe scrutiny that could result in them being ordered to fix defects as they go, and if they don’t, denied certificates of occupation which will mean they won’t be able to complete the sale of  their apartments. Thus, if Big Dave has told your developer to get their houses (or, in this case, flats) in order and you decline to do so, you could be entering a world of short-term pain and long-term extinction. Revolutionary It’s revolutionary stuff, and continuing the theme of fundamental change, Chris Duggan and Tony Irvine from Strata Community Australia (NSW) – the strata managers’ professional body – joined us via Zoom, to explain their plan to raise the professional standards of their members to the point where accreditation must be earned and maintained by increased education and training and constant scrutiny of their performance. This would be a huge step forward for strata managers – putting them on a par with professions like accountancy – and brings with it the promise of better consumer protections. Also on the agenda with the SCA bosses was the issue of building facilities management contracts and why they need to be pulled back from the crazy 10-year-plus deals that exist now, why apartment owners need more help on cladding, and why the much vaunted short-term holiday letting code of conduct is presumably under a too-hard basket somewhere in the bowels of Fair Trading. It’s an interesting and informative chat, and well worth a listen. Finally, in our Hey Marthas, we discuss why Queenland’s coronavirus restrictions are good news for swingers … unless they want to dance at weddings. That’s all in this week’s bumper Flat Chat Wrap. Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link below. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Enjoy.
This week’s podcast takes a look at an area of strata life where strata managers could be breaking the law … because apartment-owning clients want them to. We’re talking about email addresses which, if they are part of your strata scheme’s records, should be available for inspection to all owners. But many owners – and a fair few tenants – don’t want their email addresses to be available to their neighbours or other owners. Why?  Is it a case of simply not wanting to know what’s going on, so we don’t have to make difficult choices? Block nuisances Is it about not being hassled by the obsessive serial emailers who just won’t let up once they get their teeth into a topic? As JimmyT says, it’s very easy to block nuisance email addresses.  So is this more about strata committees not wanting anyone but themselves to be able to contact owners en masse, in case an alternative view of issues is too widely canvassed? By the way, when your strata manager or secretary cites privacy laws as a reason for not passing on strata information, there’s a 99 per cent chance they are talking through a hole on their strata hat. Ask them which laws they mean, specifically, and how they are supposed to be applied and then point them at these notes from our friends Lookup Strata and Amanda Farmer. Radio posers Then we move on to last week’s session with James Valentine on ABC 702’s Afternoons. Generously, James opened the session with a clip from our Hyperbole Towers podcom then we got down to the serious business of listeners’ calls. First up was one about who pays when a council-owned tree’s roots invade a strata schemes drainpipes?  The answer is not as simple as you might think. Then there’s the scheme where a general meeting agreed to spend money on much-needed and long overdue repairs, only for 6 of the 30 owners to demand that the work be halted because they don’t agree with it. There’s the woman who’s 30-year-old flat is badly affected by mould and the strata committee says it’s not their problem.  Is it?  And what can they do if it is? Finally there’s the mum whose strata committee won’t let her put a safety cushion on common property so her daughter can practice gymnastics.  However, the majority of owners are in favour – what should she do? Hey Martha! In this week’s Hey Marthas, Jimmy highlights the good news for Victorian strata owners where a two-year extension has been granted for claims against builders who installed combustible cladding. Plus there’s some relief for locked-down residents with apartment renovators told they can only work if the whole block is empty, not just their apartment. And Sue explains why she used to hit her legs with a badminton racquet until they bled.  Not as weird as it sounds! Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link below. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Enjoy.
We have a bumper edition of the Flat Chat Wrap podcast for you this week with a ton of material and some new voices too. You might want to ration your listening - for some people there are two commutes worth of pod in this episode. First off, we catch up with the amendment to the NSW strata Act that we flagged briefly last week, which would ban any apartment block from having a by-law that said pets weren’t allowed. How this came about is detailed in this story but, in a nutshell, there was a proposal floated in the Upper House to amend the strata Act so that changes to common property that would have a beneficial effect on sustainability wouldn’t require the normal 75 percent approval of a special resolution. Instead, a simple majority of owners at a general meeting could decide, for instance, to put solar panels on the roof, batteries in the basement and electric car chargers in the car park. It’s a good idea.  Environmental recalcitrants can find a million bogus reasons why they don’t want to contribute to the fight on climate change and they can often drum up the 25 percent of support need to block any such moves. So it’s a good move. But then, late in the day, an Animal Liberation Party MP (did you even know we had one?) attached an amendment to it and it got through. Sue and Jimmy discuss its chances of becoming law. Airbnb loopholes Next up, it’s the scramble by some strata schemes to close the loophole left, possibly deliberately, that would still allow empty-flat Airbnb lets in buildings that really, really don’t want them. As it stands, the new anti-short-term letting laws say that owners corporations can pass by-laws blocking the letting of apartments that are owned by investors.  However, people for whom their flat is their principle place of residence, can still let  their apartments short-term whether their neighbours want them to or not. Now, we had naively thought this was to allow genuine “sharing” – when a stranger comes and stays in your flat while you are actually there. But, no, as this story explains, “principal place of residence” could cover someone who stays there four nights a week and lets it to strangers over the weekend while they are off at their country retreat, visiting their parents or shacking up with their significant other. Or perhaps they stay their 50 weeks of the year but disappear over Christmas and New Year when city pad rentals quadruple, if not more. That’s why a number of strata lawyers are devising legal but complex by-laws to make the whole process difficult if not impossible.  Why?  Because you really wouldn’t want to get between an Airbnb host and a bucket of money. Strata summit Next cab off the rank is Amanda Farmer who joins us to explain what her Shared Space Summit is all about and why she undertook to get a global view of how we deal with and make the most of living in strata. You can read about the Summit here. Senior systems Sue has been super-busy this past week with yet another yarn in the SMH, this time about a new approach to accommodating senior citizens of strata. As her story explains, connecting seniors to a system within their community will maintain their independence for longer and might even avoid the Covid-19 carnage that we have seen in aged-care facilities across Australia. Fashionista And out Hey Marthas! This week looks to the USA and the impact that Melania Trump’s fashion tastes had on the political landscape during the Presidential nomination last week. Should we even be discussing what female politicians wear?  There’s a very interesting and controversial point of view from the (addictive) NPR Politics Roundup podcast from the USA. Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link below. And if you like what you hear,
It’s a case of too many Ps on the pod this week when we discuss your participation, the Hyperbole Towers podcom, pet petitions and payment for strata committee members. Let’s get to participation first.  We want to hear your voices, literally, so send us a question or a suggestion for a discussion topic as an audio file – record it on your smartphone – and we’ll try to include it in the podcast and respond to it too. The format should be something like: “This is Jimmy from Darlinghurst and I was wondering …” Then you’ll get your 15 seconds of fame – sorry, 15 minutes would be way too much – and you might even get the answer to a question that’s been bugging you. Promoting the Podcom The second P is a little self-indulgent in that it’s a clip from the Hyperbole Towers Podcom. Now, at time of writing, more that 310 people have listened to the Podcom in the first six days that it’s been “live”.  Now, if that doesn’t sound like much, consider this; if a podcast gets more than 136 listeners in the first MONTH that it’s been released, it is in the top 50 per cent of podcasts in the world, according to this web page. So 310 in less than a week must be pretty good, no?  You can still have a listen yourself, if you haven’t already, by clicking on the story somewhere on this page or going HERE. Pets in parliament The third P is the pet conundrum and how one of the people who thought she’d persuaded NCAT that a no-pet by-law was unfair, and was later told by the Appeals Panel told that it was OK, has launched an online parliamentary petition and a crowd-funding campaign to cover her legal bills and get the law changed. And, as I write, the NSW Upper House is debating a change to the strata Act, making it easier to approve environmentally sustainable changes to common property to which someone has added this amendment: 137B  Keeping of animals(I) A by-law has no force or effect to the extent that it purports to unreasonably prohibit the keeping of an animal on a lot.(2) The keeping of a particular animal on a lot is reasonable unless the owners corporation can show that it is not in the best interests of the animal taking into account the needs of the animal, including exercising, feeding and toileting. Whether or not that flies, you will know by the time you read this – but it’s a crafty, if shifty move to attach it to a Bill that has nothing to do with pets but has been sponsored by the Premier. Cash for committees Our fourth P is about payment to committee members or office bearers.  As it stands, strata law in NSW allows committee members to be paid for their work but only retrospectively.  In other words, the have to do the work for a year and then turn up at the next AGM and hope that the majority of owners think they did a good enough job that they deserve some kind of reward. There’s always a danger of people getting elected so they can get some pin money, if you do pay them.  Maybe it should be related to having done a basic course in strata management and committee work before you can be paid, retrospectively or otherwise. And finally, Sue talks about the chrome-plated, tiled and built-in Hell of choosing what to put in a bathroom renovation. Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link below. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Even better, it’s fun.
Were going flat out to lift the gloom in this week in the Flat Chat Wrap. First we go behind the scenes of the much heralded and long-awaited (by JimmyT, anyway) Podcom – podcast sitcom – which we are now calling Hyperbole Towers. Why “Hyperbole?” Because every new apartment block has some sort of exaggerated name, although not always creating the image the developers might hope for. For instance, we think The Babylon, for all its gardens, might conjure up slightly sleazier images, especially in the minds of fans of the TV series Babylon Berlin, if not Kenneth Aunger’s scandalous Hollywood Babylon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5eorwxcIuU Anyway, Hyperbole Towers is a much tamer affair, although it’s more Number 96 than Fawlty Towers.  You can find out more about it and listen to the episode right here. Bean me up Then we continue the “kick back and relax” theme with a visit to Frankie’s Beans coffee bar and café in Darlinghurst where Fern tells us what it’s like to run a café  in a large apartment block during a Covid-19 lockdown. After that we take a trip to Sydney Olympic Park where two of the four towers of a new development are  given over to “build to rent”.  What does that mean?  One landlord, longer leases, on-site maintenance and pets, among other attractions. Experiment Finally Sue’s Hey Martha is about the little dog that travelled through several countries to be reunited with its owners. And Jimmy looks at the Sydney Morning Herald’s series on the “social experiment’ in Sydney’s Waterloo and why residents are angry at plans to demolish 2000 old homes and replace them with 6000 new ones. And finally, there’s a call out to our listeners to get involved by sending us questions as audio tracks that we can include, and answer, on the podcast. Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link below. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutley free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Even better, it’s fun.
It’s here! The long-awaited podcom (podcast sitcom) set in a dysfunctional apartment block’s strata committee is live and ready for your ears. The premise of this audio comedy, Hyperbole Towers, is as simple as it’s believable. The strata scheme has, thanks to a stuff-up by the secretary, accidentally changed its by-laws so that they MUST hold their meetings on Zoom (rather than CAN do so). Add in characters who work from home in their underwear, use “you’re breaking up” as their fall-back get-out-of-jail card and get involved in the usual committee power struggles, and you have a potent recipe for some serious fun. The Cast and crew (minus one) rehearse Hyperbole Towers The Hyperbole Towers characters are: Charlie, the long-suffering chairwomanAlfie the manipulative and scheming building managerBrooke the hopeless secretarySteve, the committee treasurer who sees everything in terms of moneyWendy a do-gooder who is also a nasty gossip and a racist  Joe a class warrior retiree for whom nothing is Left-wing enough (until it affects his hip pocket)Damien a manic day trader for whom the committee is his only social contactAmber a "massage therapist" who says it as she sees it There is also a cameo guest appearance by star of stage and screen Todd McKenney, adding some pizzazz to the proceedings. The Story The Hyperbole Towers committee is in online crisis meetings to discuss the potential conversion of their former meeting room turned commercial space into a day spa … or is it a massage parlour? Meanwhile, constant thumping sounds, morning noon and night, are driving everyone mad, especially since building manager Alfie seems very reluctant to do anything about it. This is a classic radio sitcom with some very modern themes.  But it’s a work of fiction and any similarity to anyone living or deceased is purely coincidental, and the nature of apartment living. In other words, if you think you recognise yourself or your neighbours, you don’t. And if you enjoyed it, please, please, please share it with your friends and fellow strata dwellers and professionals through this link, and encourage them to do the same. If we can find an audience, there will be more, we promise. Credits Hyperbole Towers featured Tsu Shan Chambers,  Valentino Arico, Amelia Conway, Eveline Schubert, Michelle Rouady, Robin Queree, Matias Klaver and David MacPhail. It was narrated and directed by Warren Coleman. The podcom was written and produced by Jimmy Thomson and Warren Coleman. Audio editing and effects were by Sydney Sound Brewery under the watchful ear of John Hresc. Phoebe Armstrong was production assistant. “Hyperbole Towers” is a Flat Chat Production, copyright (2020) Words Worth Pty Ltd. "Hyperbole Towers" could not have been made without the generousfinancial assistance of City of Sydney Council. Listen Here
We cover a lot of ground in this week’s podcast … and by  “a lot of ground” we mean pretty much the whole planet. First, we take a look a the recent 60 Minutes report which examined the progress being made by NSW building commissioner David Chandler in trying to make sure no one in the future suffers the same heart-breaking disasters as the residents of Mascot Tower. It’s a surprisingly well put together report - commercial TV usually doesn’t do too well on complex issue like strata defects. And it reveals a nasty piece of legal jiggery-pokery that seems to be geared towards nothing less than making sure the Mascot owners couldn’t claim against the people they believe are responsible for their current plight. And what is that plight?  If you haven’t been paying attention, last year the residents of Mascot Tower had to be evacuated when the building started to crack and literally started sinking into the ground. It now looks like March next year before they can get back … if they can afford to pay the $53 million repair bill. Cladding win The 60 Minutes track also looks at the flammable cladding problem, especially in Melbourne, where two high rises have become notorious for their external cladding going up in flames across several floors. In the podcast, Sue reveals that owners of a scheme in Sydney have just had a big win against developers who installed combustible cladding but said they weren’t liable as their Occupancy Certificate made it all OK.  A Tribunal Appeals Board disagreed, as you can read in Sue's story, here. If you didn’t see it, the 60 Minutes track is well worth a look. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJdilY29t7Y Travel fantasies Moving on and, in our minds at least, far, far away, we talk to travel writer and podcaster Ben Groundwater about what travel will be like when the pandemic is over.  Prior to Covid-19, cheap flights and Airbnb led to some of the world’s most wonderful places being almost destroyed by having too many tourists. Will this change when it’s finally safe to travel beyond these shores (and come back without having another enforced stay in a local hotel)? And Ben talks about people who go to the same place every year and  how you have to strike a balance between fully exploring places you love by returning to them, and broadening your horizons by going somewhere entirely new. We suspect that there will be a short window between travel restrictions being eased and tourism swarms reforming when you will be able to go back and see the world’s great cities and sight as they were in the days before Tripadvisor. You can hear more from Ben on his Flight of Fancy podcast on the Nine newspapers’ website. Services rip-off After that, we talk about claims that some essential services providers are ripping off  apartment owners by taking advantage of their dual role as inspectors and repairers. Then Sue  picks the bones out of a report by National Bank of Australia economists that says apartments would be cheaper if we just let developers build them 20 storeys higher. Like many experts, we say no. Apartments will only be cheaper when people stop paying so much for them. Listen in for a vivid illustration of that fact of strata life. And finally, there’s a call out to our listeners to get involved by sending us questions as audio tracks that we can include, and answer, on the podcast. Listen here If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the "play" button below. And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying.
This week we get tangled up in the wiring as we examine the effect of Zoom meetings and electronic voting on the democratic processes of strata committees ... and the House of Lords. The chat was sparked by this forum post which alleges all sorts of skullduggery – okay, maybe not skullduggery but it suggests that a Zoom-based AGM was used to push through an excessively expensive window replacement contract. And it seems like some people may be taking advantage of the pandemic to sneak things past people who aren’t tech savvy and/or who have other things on their minds ... like how to avoid the virus and feed their families, maybe? By the way, in the pod cast, I say the meeting was an ordinary general meeting – in fact, it was a Zoom AGM.  Danger, danger! Brush with a painter I was going to make a joke about painting over the cracks but that would do our guest this week an injustice.  Paul Williams, general manager of Dukes Paint, joined us online to talk about paint in all its glories. He answered questions about whether a new paint job really makes that much difference to the value of the apartments inside the block and whether or not paint was an important part of the maintenance, regardless of the aesthetics. Did he ever discover paint had been used to cover up potentially serious defects (like concrete cancer, for instance) and what was the conversation like when he said "I've discovered problems, prepping the paint job, but I can fix them"? Are there different kinds of paints for different circumstances? How has paint technology changed in the last 10 years or so? How often should the owners in a high-rise paint the exterior? What happens if they leave it too long? On a lighter note, we asked if there are new trends in colour schemes and whether he had ever advised a strata block against using a colour they’d asked for? We asked what the oddest request he’d had when painting a building and what was the one piece of advice he'd give apartment owners when it comes to painting their building. All in all, it’s a painting masterclass, and if you are even just thinking your block might need a freshen-up, you should listen in. By the way, at the end of that segment, there’s a snatch of music from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, playing “My Pink Half of the Drainpipe,” a situation Paul has encountered more than once when two adjoining homes can’t agree on a colour scheme. Following that, we answer a question about how you should present your case at a Tribunal (based on this Forum post). Keep personalities out of it and stick to the facts is our advice. Join the pod And that got us thinking … if you want to be on the podcast, record a sound file (on your phone?) of you asking a question and we’ll play the clip and try to answer it in the podcast. Send your sound files to mail@flat-chat.com.au and we’ll give them a listen. Just give us a name – maybe not your real one – and the state where you live, and we’ll do our best to answer your question or offer a solution to your problem. While, we’re at it, if there are any strata issues you’d like us to discuss (rather than direct questions – that’s what the Forum is for), send us a note to the same address and we’ll see what we can do. Todd's masks Moving on, our “Hey Marthas” this week are about Todd McKenney’s project Todd Masks, getting theatrical costumiers and dressmakers to make covid masks and sell them online (all the money goes directly to them). And Jimmy Zooms in on a clip from the end of this week’s Insiders on the ABC that shows high office doesn’t render you immune from technical incompetence. https://www.facebook.com/InsidersABC/videos/741300493356643 Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there,
This week’s podcast is inspired by a question on our Forum asking what to do about two office-bearers who have taken bricks out of common property walls so as to install integrated bookshelves … with the predictable effect that has on noise insulation, not to mention fire safety.  You can read the original post and responses here. All of which leads to a discussion about the dumb (and inconsiderate) things people do when they haven’t got the message that they don’t own the four walls around their flat – just whatever’s inside them. Strata Answers Moving on, we talk to a couple of people who have made it their business to explain the facts of strata life to owners and tenants, especially those tied up in dysfunctional strata committees, or waging trench warfare against them. Our loyal sponsors StrataAnswers – Tonja Gibson and John Hutchison – explain what it’s like to walk into the no-man’s-land between warring factions in a strata dispute. They try to take the emotion out of the conflict by applying logic and considerable knowledge and experience. It’s all about education and communication, they say – and getting people to realise that doing nothing can costs more in the long run than paying to get things fixed. As Sue says, they are the missing link between strata managers, lawyers and committees. Unit price droplets Then Sue talks about how apartment prices have fallen but not by as much as everyone feared.  The worst is yet to come (for sellers, at least) but Sue reports the experts predict it won’t be as bad as we think. Hey, Martha! And finally, we have our “Hey Marthas”  - oddities from the past week that may have nothing to do with strata but have caught our attention. Sue has been watching War of the Worlds, streaming on SBS and explains why it it makes her feel better about the coronavirus pandemic.  Have a look at this promo (but don’t if you’re already addicted to the series as it contains a few spoilers). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FqABRhwWCE And with the TV drama in mind, she has spotted dancing robots at a Korean baseball game, some of which look like the nasty killing machines on WotW. Admittedly, some of them also look like people dressed up as robots. Maybe real fans have found a way of sneaking into the stadium in defiance of lockdown restrictions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHkVNLI9qFk Scots scotch Airbnb Jimmy takes partial credit for the impending crackdown on Airbnb planned for Scotland, where one in five properties on the Isle of Skye and one in six in the centre of Edinburgh have been given over to short-term holiday lets, despite chronic housing shortages. With some relief provided by the coronavirus hit to tourism in the UK, the Scottish Parliament is planning to crack down before it all goes crazy again next northern Summer. RIP Peter Green And finally Jimmy pays tribute to Peter Green, one of the guitar heroes of his youth who passed away at the weekend. Green, who founded Fleetwood Mac, had his creative genius cut short by LSD 50 years ago at the age of only 23 (don’t do drugs, kids), but not before he’d left a musical legacy that still resonates today. Jimmy struggled to choose which one to sample – Albatross is the best known hit but not really representative. Man of the World is too sad (listen for yourself below). Green Manalishi? Oh Well? Need Your Love So Bad? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgJGcJ-EiXs All terrific songs (check them out on Youtube) but if you want to know the song Jimmy chose, you’ll have to listen to the podcast. (Clue:  You’ll probably know a more recent version by another guitarist, who's better known these days). Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap,
It’s another showbag of conflict, calm and coronavirus craziness on the Flat Chat Wrap podcast this week. First, inspired by a question from our Forum, we discuss what you can do when someone who shouldn’t even be at a strata committee meeting – his daughter is the lot owner – bullies the other members. Our suggested remedies range from using existing rules – non-members shouldn’t speak unless the committee votes to allow it -  to standing orders that empower the secretary to “name” disruptive  elements. As a last resort, you could consider employing security guards or even calling the police. Secret Garden secrets In a more restful mode, we talk to gardening guru and landscaper extraordinaire Matt Cantwell about what you can and should do with plants on the balcony. Matt is a passionate proselytiser for the power of plant life, and he really makes you feel your life is lacking if you don’t have some greenery around you. We took the opportunity to find out how his philosophy fits with apartment living and here’s the gist of what he had to say, as a Q and A. What plants would you put on a small balcony? Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Mother in laws tongue’ or Aspidistra elatior ‘Cast iron plant’,both great for shade, low water use.Plants that can be easily trimmed to the pot proportions like Buxus microphyllajaponica ‘Japanese Box hedge or Crassula ovata ‘Jade’ both low water use as well. What plants would you put on a large terrace? If you can, pop a tree in a large pot. Olea europaea ‘Olive tree’.Plumeria acutifilia ‘Frangipani’Acer palmatum ‘Japanese Maple’Palms are also great too, Howea forsteriana ‘Kentia palm’Camaerops Humilis – ‘European fan palm’ If you like plants but are really bad at looking after them, what should you choose for your balcony or inside your home? Anything drought tolerant would be good Euphorbia ingens – ‘Candleabra tree’Echinocactus grusonii – ‘Golden barrel cactus’Agave ‘Blue glow’Crassula varieties like ‘ovata’, ‘bluebird’ or ‘max cook’,Raphiolepsis ‘Snow maiden’ or ‘Oriental Pearl’. If you have limited space and want to go for herbs and maybe even some vegetables rather than flowering plants, what are your best options? Rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano, basil, parsley, mint, lettuce, rocket and tomatoes. What are the best balcony plants for screening and privacy? Lilly pilly – These come in many varieties.Podocarpus – Maki or elatusRaphiolepsis indica What about indoor plants for a small space? Aloe veraAnthurium andraeanumEchievera spSpathiphyllum or ‘Peace lillyPeperomiaPothos Pass the Corona After chatting to Matt about flower power, our discussion takes a slightly less fragrant tone when we look at the disgraceful antics of the 60 partygoers who were fined $1000 each by police after they took over a short-term let (which has a track record of driving its neighbours nuts) and blew the Covid restrictions away. FYI,  this party house wouldn’t even have been available if our politicians had taken a break from watering down our short-term rental code of conduct and got it out where it might actually save some lives in these times of covid crisis. But what can apartment residents do when the pollies keep dragging their feet and summer – when city apartments become party central – is just around the corner?   There’s all that and more in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap. Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. And please give us a rating or review … it all helps to keep us going.
If you are up to your eyes in paint, tiles and taps – or even better, just looking through the brochures as you prepare the domestic make-over you can’t put off any longer – you could do worse than listen to this week’s podcast. We’ve Zoomed in on interior designer Stephanie Bungard to discover the easiest and most effective way to make your apartment look fresh and inviting. For instance, do you know what colours are popular these days because they are calming? And if you’re looking to freshen up the place for rent or sale – or just to make it a nicer space to live in – how you can supplement the paint job with new tapware in the kitchen and bathroom. Design questions In an enlightening and entertaining chat, Steff answers such questions as: What are the latest trends in apartment interior design?What’s the easiest way to make a small space look bigger?In a renovation, where should you spend more – kitchen or bathroom?Feature walls – in or out?Sliding doors on wardrobes are great space savers – but what if you don’t want giant mirrors in your bedroom?What are the biggest and/or most common mistakes apartment owners make regarding interiors?What are the trendy new colours for apartments?What are good alternatives to tiles in bathrooms (all that grout!)?Timber, tile or carpet on floors? Any tips for investors who will be renting out or selling their flats? Todd waltzes in Before that, Sue and Jimmy talk about the case that came to light when Todd McKenney contacted us to say he wanted to help a pensioner who’s in danger of losing his dog. As this story explains, 81-year-old Colin Marshall firmly believed he was entitled to take his pet greyhound into his new home  in an apartment block, only for the owners corporation to change its by-laws after he had moved in. Is that a rule made retrospectively?  And if it is, does it hold water? Is there any difference between that and, say, a new rule banning barbecues on balconies when someone has bought one under the old by-laws? Obviously, the answer to the latter is “yes” as a pet is a member of the family as Bu is, in this case.  As Todd is the Ambassador of the Greyhoud Adoption program, he’s “waltzed in” to offer support and advice. Rents up and down Then we get into the ups and downs of the rental market which has some revealing twists and turns in terms of where rents have actually gone up while most others have gone down The cover of Mary Trump's book from Politico online magazine And Sue’s “Hey Martha” looks at the new book by Donald Trump’s niece. With a Ph.D. in psychology, Mary Trump is far from your average disgruntled family member. The book’s subtitle, “How my family created the world’s most dangerous man,” gives you a hint of its general thrust. You can read more about it in this Politico feature. Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. And please give us a rating or review … it all helps to keep us going.
In this week’s Flat Chat Wrap podcast we encounter the best and worst in apartment living, from negative equity in off-the plan purchases, to multiple tenants causing parking chaos in a block that simply doesn’t know how to enforce their own by-laws. In between, as some positive relief, we chat to an architect who won four gongs at the recent NSW Architects award, including for a revolutionary high-end high-rises, as well as an equally ground-breaking boarding house. Off-the-plan pain But first the issue of people who paid a deposits on off-the-plan apartments a couple of years ago, and have watched property values shrink and in some cases their jobs disappear because of the pandemic, just as their new flat is ready for occupancy. This item was inspired by this interview with ABC NewsRadio’s Sandy Aloisi – and you can hear a snatch of it on the podcast – which was in turn inspired by this story in the AFR. As Jimmy and Sue discuss, it’s not just a matter of walking away from the 10 percent deposit, which may cost less than completing the sale of a now over-priced unit for which you can’t get a mortgage anyway. The developers can sue for the difference between your surrendered deposit and the reduced price of the apartment, as well as legal costs.  Any way you look at it, it’s a lose-lose situation for the apartment buyer. Moving on to happier thoughts, we chat to Philip Thalis the award-winning architect behind the spectacularly innovative Verve Building in Newcastle, NSW, pictured here at the head of last week’s podcast show notes. The Verve isn’t just a smart looking block, Philip has worked hard to make sure it contributes to the local environment and community. Boarding house Philip also talks about the “new generation” boarding house he designed for five Muslim brothers who wanted a project to show off their concreting skills (seriously!). Boarding houses have a bad name in property development, not least, says Philip, because there are almost no quality controls over the finished projects, which can be cheap and very nasty. He’s hoping his project will not only inspire other developers to try a bit harder, but encourage the government to put some basic standards into the design and construction of accommodation that has previously had an terrible reputation. Parking madness Then there’s a story straight off the Forum, where a strata scheme is suffering parking madness and they simply don’t know what to do … especially when they can’t even identify the tenants and sub-tenants in the offending unit. And finally our Hey Marthas  take us back to the architecture awards and the toilet block, pictured above, that has its designer flushed with success. That’s all in this week’s bumper edition of the Flat Chat Wrap. Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. And please give us a rating or review … it all helps to keep us going.
In this week’s Flat Chat Wrap podcast, in the run-up to the Australian architectural awards, we talk about some of the innovative apartment block designs that made it the short-list. For a start, there’s the Verve towers in Newcastle which offer more corner units because it’s two slim towers rather than one solid one. Judging by the above picture, it’s two slices rather than two fingers (as Jimmy suggests in the podcast), but the fact that it costs more to build is offset by the ability of the developer to charge more for each flat. Then there are “new age” boarding houses which, because they aren’t really apartments, can be as small as 24 sqm. And there are apartments with built-in designer furniture - which leads to a discussion about an embarrassing bed. Strata Loans Then we talk to Paul Morton, CEO of Lannock Strata Finance, one of our long-term sponsors whose company is one of the few sources of strata loans in the country. Usually when we do interviews we send our guests a list of likely questions (to get them thinking, avoid long pauses and reassure them that they aren’t going to be hijacked). Unusually, Paul answered his in print.  So, never been prone to looking gift horses in the mouth ... here are his rough notes and bullet points. We asked other questions – including if he has noticed strata schemes struggling to pay their bills due to shortfalls in levies. And he said a lot more than we’ve reproduced here.  So you’ll have to listen to get it all. Many apartment owners and committees are nervous about strata loans – why? Fear comes from lack of knowledge and understanding. Nothing is ever good or bad, it’s a matter of costs and benefits, do the benefits of a strata loan outweigh the costs? And as Australians, we’re often kidding ourselves.  We say we don’t like debt, but we do it all the time.  Who buys an apartment without borrowing?  We actually love mortgages, because we know if we have a mortgage we can get a new house.  And apart from the fun that means, we intuitively understand the mathematics, we know that the ROI from having the house or apartment is much higher than the cost of the loan, that’s why we do it. For some people it’s a leap of faith to apply that same intuitive knowledge to the benefits of refurbishing your common property and the return that this creates – increased capital value, emotional return, just feeling good about the place that you live.  But it’s not a leap of faith, it’s just a matter of doing the financial maths, and the emotional maths.  Will the return be greater than the cost of investment? What are the benefits of strata loans over special levies? Spreading cash-flows over time and tax benefits for investors If you or some people in your block won’t be able to pay a special levy, then borrowing is the only way to get that necessary work done.  And even if you can pay a special levy, borrowing’s likely to be a better way. Would it make a different if the government made it easier for strata schemes to split funding for special projects and financial shortfalls between special levies and strata loans? Woo hoo, the government’s got it right.  It doesn’t mandate whether to have a sinking fund, borrow or have a special levy.  And it certainly should not change that and start interfering into what is an owner decision.  The government says that once a year you have to think about the best way to fund those upcoming capital works.  It has to be like that, each property is different, each owner is different, circumstances always alter cases.  The question is what mix of sinking fund, special levy and borrowing is best for your particular building, your community. You are not a big fan of accumulated sinking funds. Why? It’s back to the knowledge and understanding thing. And like strata borrowing or special levies, it’s not a matter of sinking funds being good or bad,
It’s a bumper edition of the Flat Chat Wrap this week, boosted by an extract from JimmyT’s guest spot on James Valentine’s Afternoons on ABC radio. But first Jimmy and Sue revisit the worst apartments they have ever seen, inspired by stories of the block in Auburn, Sydney, that prompted Building Commissioner David Chandler to seek and get the most comprehensive changes to building and planning laws the state has seen for generations. But for Jimmy and Sue, it all brings back memories of apartments with full-sized bars where the kitchen used to be, the special “disabled” apartment couldn’t let wheelchairs through its doors and the air con system that blew the smoke from one flat into the next. James Valentine Then we get a taste of Jimmy’s guest spot on James Valentine’s Afternoons (you can hear the whole Monday June 22 session here).  Among the topics discussed were Jimmy’s PodCom (podcast sitcom), voting for and against pets in company title, how much you should pay for building into your roof space, how much detail there should be in your strata committee minutes, mystery maintenance payments and the right to object to an air-con unit over your terrace. Plants and pants Later, Sue and Jimmy tackle the issue of what you might find when you buy into a block where the majority of owners are members of the same family. And then this week’s Hey Martha’s are pets and plants in the office, and pants with elasticated waistbands. Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. And please give us a rating or review … it all helps to keep us going.
After what has felt like several weeks of doom and gloom, we are looking on the bright side in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap podcast. First of all we chat about Sue’s story in Domain about a new mixed development where affordable rentals will be mixed in with full-price apartments … and you will never know who’s paying full fare and who isn’t. The apartments will be identical so there will be no discrimination … unlike other efforts where the affordable units had a different front door from the other flats in the same building. App chat Then we talk to Brent Clark, best known for WattBlock a company that helps apartment buildings with energy saving, solar feasibility studies, NABERS ratings and electric vehicle charging reports. But that’s not why Brent is on the Pod – maybe next time – he’s Zoomed in to tell us about the WhatsApp community in his block in Chatswood, Sydney, which has blossomed from a casual social tool to an essential piece of community infrastructure. From tracking down a noisy shower that was waking up a dozen or more residents every night, to identifying spiders and establishing whether or not they are venomous, the WhatsApp group has now spread to other buildings in the street. Finally, we discuss whether or not our dining habits will change after the restaurants reopen, Jimmy’s relates his encounter with a protesting martial artist and marks one year since the evacuation of residents from the Mascot Towers while Sue notes the election of a very unusual mayor in Vermont, in the USA. Listen here If you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to this podcast, completely free, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the link doesn’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. And please give us a rating or review … it all helps to keep us going.
loading
Comments 
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store