July 2014 Council Newsletter To Owners (Part 3)

My response to another section of the Newsletter recently mailed to Squatters Run owners by the body corporate council. I hadn't intended writing about this until my grumps got back to last October but as it was raised in the July Newsletter I have decided to deal with it now.

"By-laws and consideration for other owners

A Squatters owner has recently left the following 'warning' in their boot locker, following a decision made after the long weekend last October to turn off the drying room heating.
[Council considered that heating common areas during the summer period was a costly exercise providing little benefit to owners or their guests, but indicated that Council members were authorised to turn heating back on during any extended rainy periods].

On October 24th last year another owner and I left wet ski boots, gloves and other gear in our lockers in the Squatters Run Stage 2 heated boot room after a day on the snow. The next day I returned to the boot room to find wet cold boots, gloves, hat, etc. The heating had been turned off shortly after we had left our gear in there. This was not an accident as it required obtaining a key from the strata manager at Alpine Strata in order to access the locked heating controls (note: the heating controls in the Stage 1 boot room are not locked).

I immediately wrote an email of complaint to Alpine Strata and requested a sign be erected to warn owners and guests when the heating was to be on and off. The body corporate council responded three days later in an email, with: "Council members are authorised to turn common area heating on or off as they see fit in light of conditions and usage."

I have no issue with the heating being turned off at specified times as long as everyone knows about it rather than just keeping it a secret between council members.

Where was the openness, consistency and consideration for all owners and their guests? Not only was the heating turned off on two owners but also tenants in my rental apartment, who worked each day on the hill.

In the July Newsletter body corporate states that: "...Council members were authorised to turn heating back on during any extended rainy periods..." and even though it kept snowing through October, November and December last year, the heating was not turned back on for myself or my tenants. See my reports for: November 12 and November 15 and December 05 and December 07.

Now, this is not the first time tenants of mine have been left in the lurch - so to speak. Last year one of my tenants had his water supply turned off for an entire weekend without being informed that it was going to happen, but at least on that occasion an apology and token compensation were doled out after I put in a complaint. However, on this occasion, I received no apology from the body corporate over failing to warn us of the impending action to turn off the heating.

I feel this action was another example of Council's harassment and bullying towards me or else it was Council's total lack of consideration for anyone but themselves and their own guests. Surely basic common decency would dictate, that at least an apology would be made to all affected rather than their response of "... Council members are authorised to turn common area heating on or off as they see fit..." (my translation= "We'll do what we want when we want").

Yes, as the July Newsletter states, I left a sign to warn other owners and guests:

My warning sign

I put up the sign for the following reasons. Firstly, as a common courtesy to owners and guests not privy to when councillors may or may not turn on the heating, and secondly, in an attempt to reduce the liability risk associated with such actions.

I might be wrong and the two retired solicitors on council should know if I am, but surely if some one leaves wet gear in the drying room when the heating is on;
A. one would reasonably expect that the gear would be dry the next day
B. one would not expect that someone is going to come in straight after and turn the heating off without warning.

If gear was damaged or holiday plans disrupted as a result of such an action when there is no clear warning signs of the possibility of such an action, one would expect to be able to claim for damages or any other loss caused by such an action.

When someone from Council eventually saw my warning sign they placed their own sign (see photo below) on the outside of my boot locker.

Their sign

In an email to the body corporate I asked Council to please clarify their term "winter season" as the heating was not turned back on until the 21st of June this year and as everyone in Thredbo knows (well at least I thought everyone knew), "winter" officially starts on the June Long Weekend not two weeks later. My question to council regarding their term "winter season", like many other questions, remains unanswered.

Upon seeing Council's sign I removed mine - I thought there was no longer a need for it but as soon as I removed my sign, Council removed theirs. Why? We need a sign to clarify when the heating will be on and off. A sign saying "heating is only on between June Long Weekend and October Long Weekend" would suffice. Why can't the body corporate council provide the level of customer service that Squatters Run is so highly rated for?

On top of this, the statement by the body corporate "Council members are authorised to turn common area heating on or off as they see fit..." has also left me somewhat concerned.
Three councillors control many of the rental apartments in Squatters Run and have the power to turn heating on and off for themselves and their guests whilst the rest of the owners do not have any such control for themselves or their guests.

I contacted the ACCC asking if this constituted "anti-competitive behaviour". The ACCC said "the ACCC does not have a role in individual dispute resolution." but went on to say they have recorded my complaint and made some other suggestions that I'm yet to follow up.

By leaving my apartment number clearly visible in the photo council posted in the July Newsletter, I believe this is another attempt by council to discredit me.

I feel they would rather bully and threaten me with by-laws than provide a proper level of customer service for guests and owners. Where is the "Quality Experience" that people staying at Squatters Run should receive?

I still request council erect a sign. In my opinion not doing so would be at least careless, and if not also, a condescending attitude towards all other owners and guests.