Hilarious stories from a strata manager - be glad it didn’t happen to you!

These hilarious insider stories from a strata apartment manager will make you laugh - from tenants who ripped up floorboards in a rented apartment to make space for their pet pigs to the old lady who literally hoses down overly amorous neighbours. The truth really is stranger than fiction!

While many owners have great ideas about how their strata community should be maintained to the highest standard and are willing to contribute accordingly, others are less inclined and often unwilling to contribute financially.

A good Strata Manager will keep accurate and up to date financial records on behalf of the Strata Community and provide them with the necessary information to make sound management decisions that affect not just the individual but the whole Strata Community.

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What is it like being a strata manager? "Extremely busy!" says Stephen

It is a constant balancing act of weighing up the individual needs of an owner and how this may impact the entire Strata Community.

Here are some insider tips and hilarious stories from Ace Body Corporate Management CEO, Stephen Raffthe who is author of Strata Living Stories. Get it here and save 15% off the RRP.

Q. What do you wish residents knew before they picked up the phone to complain to you?
Many owners often mistakenly believe that the money they pay in their strata fees is being paid directly to the strata manager for their work. The strata manager is only paid the agreed upon ‘management fee’ for their role, the rest of the money is used to pay for insurance, common property maintenance and tasks as agreed by the majority of strata owners at the last general meeting. Owners are very quick to blame the manager for when something has not been paid or when maintenance work has not been completed, this is often due to strata fees having not been paid. The Strata Manager cannot pay for a service when they do not have the necessary funds from the strata community.

Q. What are some practical tips you can pass on?
Forming a strata committee is extremely important and provides the strata manager with a continuous stream of relevant information from the strata community. A properly functioning committee can discuss important issues that affect owners and ensures that there are no surprise fees on the horizon. This information can then be relayed through to the strata manager and they can ensure it is enacted.

Q. What is the most common complaint you receive?
Pets, parking and noise are definitely the three most common areas where strata managers receive complaints from owners. Managers often receive conflicting reports from competing residents and it can be very difficult to adjudicate. It is always recommended to record as much information as possible that can be used as evidence; photos and video on your mobile phone can be very useful.

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Noise is one of the biggest complaints from residents

Q. What is the funniest thing that has happened on the job?
A little old lady rang me up years ago and she said ‘I just can’t sleep at night there’s a constant banging on the wall, the bed is banging up against the wall and people are screaming. They’re banging like rabbits’. She rang and rang me continually. After the police couldn’t interfere with the noise complaint, the neighbour decided to take matters into her own hands. Because she was complaining all the time the noises actually got louder and louder. So one weekend, it was a hot summer’s day, their window was wide open and she got the hose and saturated them in their bedroom. It was on for young and old after that.

Q. What is the weirdest thing you have seen?
The tenants at a property I managed decided to rip up the floor boards in their lounge room, dig a large hole and line it with wood. They then created a pit enclosure in the lounge room for two pigs and fed their meal scraps to them daily. The pigs were growing progressively bigger each day and the smell was grotesque. I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but the property manager promised it to be true. The tenants were eventually evicted and we don’t know what became of the two pigs.

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I wonder why they thought having a pig pen in their living room would be a good idea?!

Q. The most inappropriate thing you have seen?
There was a guy who was renting a downstairs apartment and he’d been there for about two or three years. He’d worked out the unit above was vacant and had been like that for years so he decided he wanted to connect his place to the top one. I guess he thought if no one was using the top unit he’d be doing the owner a great service to put a stairwell in from the unit he was renting to the top unit, so he created a great hole.

We only found out because the owner of the top unit decided because he was overseas and wasn’t going to be coming back for a number of years he’d rent it out. He sent out an agent to do an inspection and we happened to be there on the same day inspecting the common property. They said, ‘You’re not going to believe this!’ Afterwards we interviewed the strata community and the neighbours said this guy would come in and out of his unit wearing protective glasses and a helmet; carrying tools so they thought he was doing work on his unit.

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At least the guy thought to wear protective gear

Q. What is it like being a strata manager?
Extremely busy! I receive many phone calls each day from strata owners and unfortunately many of these are of a negative nature. The majority of the time the owners are looking for someone to blame or to find out who they must contact to fix a leaking tap or have graffiti removed from their common property. A strata manager is a representative of the Strata Community and can only act on their behalf; not make autonomous decisions.

While many owners have great ideas about how their strata community should be maintained to the highest standard and are willing to contribute accordingly, others are less inclined and often unwilling to contribute financially. A good Strata Manager will keep accurate and up to date financial records on behalf of the Strata Community and provide them with the necessary information to make sound management decisions that affect not just the individual but the whole Strata Community. It is a constant balancing act of weighing up the individual needs of an owner and how this may impact the entire Strata Community.

Q. Worst thing about the job?
Probably the confusing strata legislation that differs from each state and territory in Australia making it hard for Strata Managers to effectively do their job and making it difficult for the owners they are representing to comprehend. Consequently, Strata Managers often face backlash from property owners who are simply uninformed.

Many people want their individual issue to be resolved immediately, but when the manager explains the various other circumstances that must be taken into account they are less forward with their ideas. Much of strata management involves conflict resolution and helping owners find the balance between what benefits them personally and also helps the greater strata community that they have bought into.

Do you have any crazy or hilarious stories to share? Let us know what happened in the comments below!