Living in a condominium can be a dream come true for many, offering a comfortable and secure lifestyle. However, like any other living arrangement, condo living can have its fair share of challenges. One of the most common challenges is dealing with disputes between owners and the Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) or condo management. These disputes can range from issues like constructing awnings, unauthorised structures, or dealing with water leakage from upstairs units.
It is important to understand the rights and responsibilities of condo owners in such situations.
Before delving into the resolution of disputes, it is essential to understand the role of the MCST. The MCST is a legal entity that is responsible for the management and maintenance of common areas in strata-titled properties, such as condominiums. This managing body, which is also known as the Management Corporation (MC) typically comprises all Subsidiary Proprietors (SP) — the condo owners themselves.
Common disputes and their causes
1. Awnings and unauthorised structures
Condo owners may want to add amenities to their units such as awnings or other structural alterations. Such changes frequently need clearance from the MCST or condo management as it affects the façade of the condo or there may be condo bylaws which govern this. Disputes arise when owners make these alterations without official authority, raising worries about structural integrity, aesthetics, and safety.
2. Water leakage from upstairs units
Water leakage concerns, which are frequently caused by flats on upper floors, can be aggravating. These disagreements may centre around who is accountable for repair expenditures, determining the source of the leak, and determining the degree of the damage.
3. Nuisance and noise complaints
Living in close proximity to others means that noise-related issues can be contentious. These disagreements, whether they include loud music, renovations at strange hours, or noisy pets, can strain neighbourly ties.
What can you do as an owner
1. Document the dispute
It is essential to maintain a comprehensive record of the dispute. Document all communications, whether written or electronic, including emails, letters, or text messages. Keep a detailed log of incidents, their dates, times, and any actions you have taken to address the issue. These records can be invaluable if legal action becomes necessary, providing evidence of your attempts to resolve the conflict.
2. Request a general meeting
If the dispute is affecting the condominium community as a whole, you can request a general meeting of all condo owners. This is an opportunity to discuss the issue collectively, share concerns, and potentially arrive at a resolution through a majority vote or consensus. Such meetings can provide a democratic approach to addressing disputes.
3. Explore alternative dispute resolution methods
Mediation is not the sole form of alternative dispute resolution. Arbitration or expert determination are other options. In arbitration, a neutral third party hears both parties and renders a binding decision, whereas expert determination includes the conclusion being determined by an expert in the relevant subject. Outside of court, these procedures can provide fast, legally enforceable remedies.
4. Consider out-of-court settlement
Consider proposing an out-of-court settlement before launching into a full-fledged legal battle. Negotiations, assisted conversations, or formal settlement conferences are examples of how all parties might work together to establish an agreement with the assistance of legal specialists. When compared to a full-fledged court action, out-of-court settlements can save time and resources.
5. Legal action
If everything else fails, legal action may be required. Consult a lawyer, and they may help you through the legal system. This may involve filing a claim with the Strata Titles Boards, which can resolve conflicts between condo owners, the MCST, or the management business or it may involve filing an action in court.
In summary, when facing disputes with your condominium’s MCST or management, it is essential to be proactive, informed, and persistent. By following these steps, you can navigate disputes more effectively and protect your rights as a condo owner. Remember, open communication, knowledge of your rights, and a willingness to explore various resolution methods are key to maintaining harmony within your condominium community.
If the situation escalates or becomes legally complex, consulting a law firm like DC Law LLC can be a crucial step in ensuring a fair and just resolution. We are a reputable law firm that specialises in various areas, including defamation, general litigation, probate litigation, arbitration and commercial litigation in Singapore. With years of experience under our belt, we are committed to helping you determine the best course of action and achieve justice.
Do not hesitate to get in touch with us today for a consultation.