January 2, 2020 at 4:35 pm #28305HB MelbourneMember
Dear Your Strata Property Members,
My property has a rooftop terrace which is available to all residents of the complex.
Recently, I discovered evidence of illegal drug use and possession on the terrace.
My questions regarding this are as follows;
1. Is this a civil or criminal matter?
2. How do we approach the alleged suspects?
3. If damage occurs to common or third party property, or death and/or injury occurs to persons as a result of such drug use. Is the Owner’s Corporation liable for damages arising from said activity?
Thank you for your assistance with this.
HB MelbourneJanuary 8, 2020 at 3:41 pm #28687Amanda FarmerExpert
Hi HB Melbourne,
I’d guess the police will not be interested in evidence of drug use on ‘private’ property – especially without CCTV evidence (which I assume you don’t have, but let me know if I’m wrong).
What evidence points you to the ‘alleged suspects’? Your answer to that question will guide my answer as to how you might approach the alleged suspects…
If damage occurs to common property, the Owners Corporation has the same legal rights against the culprits as in any other circumstance: you just have to find who they are and make your Tribunal/Court application against them (whichever might be relevant). Identifying the culprits is, of course, the hard part.
I recommend the installation of CCTV on your rooftop terrace, if you don’t have it already. In my experience, such installations solve a raft of problems quickly and are well worth the investment.
The Owners Corporation is not condoning or facilitating the drug use, so if there was personal injury or death as a result, I can’t see how the OC could be in any way liable for that. It’s probably a good idea to be ‘seen to be’ taking all reasonable steps to address the issue, eg by enforcing relevant by-laws against the culprits (if you can identify them) and installing CCTV, unless the cost is prohibitive for your scheme’s size/budget.
Perhaps considering a restriction on the use of the area to certain times only/by application only may assist – that way, the committee knows who is using the area at what times and users become more conscious that their beheaviour will be more easily monitored.
Amanda.January 15, 2020 at 6:45 pm #29055Strata HelpMember
Hello Amanda, Just read this on alleged drug use. I wanted to ask a few questions.
1. Has there been any court cases/decisions that you may be aware of around Australia where an owner or tenant has been dealing illegal activities out of there property and has been convicted of bringing the strata complex into distribute.
2. The second question is. What could owners or council do on behalf of complex (if any) if they have seen uncover police break down the doors of an resident suspected of illegal activities. Remembering that these upstanding citizens need to walk across a lot of common property before they can enter the unit.
3. The third. What could council or owners do if the resident suspected of dealing with illegal activities, who has had at least two uncover police raids (first witnessed by owners and second witnessed by a council member), a lot of uniformed visits from police for other matters, also if an a separate unknown person has been arrested from the unit, also if the resident themselves has been convicted in the magistrates court of driving without a licence, also if the resident themselves have been convicted in the magistrates court with drug paraphernalia within the unit – during one of the police raids. Scarily enough, say two upstanding citizens (out of the million that have been witnessed) previously visiting this resident at the complex and were acting suspiciously on common property before retreating into the unit are now in jail. Say these two are now due for a trial in the Supreme court very soon- charged with attempt to murder, aggravated armed robbery, deprivation of liberty, threaten to kill, aggravated armed robbery and a many others. Say one of these two upstanding citizens in question may have enjoyed a little notoriety for being charged with drive by shootings. Known as a dangerous and unpredictable person.
4. The fourth. Say limited owners are aware of these interesting incidents, except just a few. Say that this resident may potentially be on the council. Say an individual owners request (denied) that Strata CCTV footage to be extracted for the latest uncover police raid and stored with the strata management for the record. The police were walking back and forth across common property all the while extracting items which they bagged in black plastic into their vehicles.January 22, 2020 at 9:51 pm #29187Amanda FarmerExpert
Answering your questions using the same numbering:
1. Not that I am aware of. Interesting idea for a by-law though…?
2. Nothing, in my view. This NSW case regarding police entry on to common property may be of interest.
3. Nothing, in my view, unless you could ground a by-law breach in any of this behaviour? If the resident is a tenant, the landlord may have the power under the lease to terminate the lease, depending on the behaviour and legal status of the tenant.
4. If you want to get rid of them from the council/committee, start publicising the bad behaviour (be brave) and make clear this is not a fit and proper person to serve the building.
In researching your questions, I also came across this NSW case which I was not previously aware of in relation to criminal activities on common property (spoiler: the OC was not held liable): Proprietors of Strata Plan 17226 v Drakulic  NSWCA 381 (27 November 2002). That case is probably more relevant to HB Melbourne’s first post above.
Amanda.June 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm #230564HB MelbourneMember
I am so sorry for my late reply to this.
Thank you all so much for your advice and assistance, it has been most helpful.
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