Property Disputes involving Body Corporates
An issue has arisen in our body corporate that now divides us and has caused a dispute.
This is a very common occurrence. Usually, it can be worked out in conjunction with the body corporate secretary, however, if it can't, then a plan of action is usually required to rectify the situation. Far too many people try to bury the issue hoping that it will go away by itself by the time the next body corporate AGM is held. A plan I have recommended to others previously goes something like this.
Stop the "War by Email"
For all the good email has brought us, it has a lot to answer for.
Are you old enough to remember life before email or even the fax?
You receive a contentious letter in the post. Your blood boils, you hand write a draft of what your reply is going to be, you hand edit this, and then write out a good copy. Proof reading of this a little while later shows something that may be a bit harsh so you redo the letter. Courtesy was higher up the totem pole in those days compared to now. You address the envelope, walk to the post office, buy a stamp, all the while pondering on the merits of what you have scribed. Prior to putting the letter in the letter box you have had plenty of time to reflect on the contents and, usually, if you have said anything unwise you don't post the letter. At a minimum, the sender of the original letter has had to wait about a week for the reply by which time, the situation will have somewhat defused itself, as time can be a great healer of many problems.
However, with email, you now receive the contentious communication, that has been copied to all in sundry, in an attempt by the originator to stamp their authority on the matter. You hit "Reply All" and let the originator have it with both barrels. The originator receives this prior to their heart rate returning to normal after having sent the original email and then it is all on. Lobbying starts for both sides from the copied parties trying to secure their support. The original issue gets overtaken by the personal attacks from one to the other.
Break the email chain. Don't respond to any more emails unless there is a very good reason to respond, such as countering a false accusation. If you do have a valid reason that requires a response, only reply to the sender. Do not, under any circumstances, respond with the "Reply All".
Meet with the people directly involved in this contentious event
You may or may not need to invite the Body Corporate secretary, it will depend on your set of circumstances. Keep the invitee list to only those directly involved. For every extra person at a meeting like this, the likelihood of success deteriorates exponentially. At this meeting, give everyone a chance to speak and try to appreciate the issue from their point of view. Hopefully, you will come to some form of agreement. If this is so, then after the meeting, one should email the other outlining what their understanding of the resolution is and this should be replied to in the affirmative so long as the other party agree with the contents.
They will not meet with me or I am not comfortable meeting them alone
Ask the Body Corporate secretary to chair the meeting or ask us to get involved.
How does mediate.co.nz help resolve the situation
We get involved by either chairing or facilitating the meeting. As we are a completely unrelated party with no vested interest in any outcome, we can approach the situation in a neutral way, helping the people involved to reassess the situation by identifying the issues of the people. We then work with all the people to facilitate them in coming up with creative solutions that will satisfy everyone's long term interests.