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Owners corporation law

08 Oct 2015

Encouraging vertical communities to innovate

The best owners’ corporations (OCs) are always looking to innovate, to experiment with new modes of living and to provide a diversity of services and activities to encourage their local community to come closer together.

Communal areas such as rooftops and gardens are one such piece of common property that can be transformed into areas where volunteer residents can come together to socialise and be productive for their community.

A growing number of buildings in Melbourne are inviting local beekeepers to establish a colony of bees on their rooftops. Residents have been quick to assume beekeeping duties and don the protective gear to perform maintenance duties.  

Bees play a crucial role in keeping an ecosystem balanced and the well-reported decline of bee populations worldwide due to disease and other factors means that there is a demand for greater numbers of bee colonies to be established and maintained.

Aside from the community collaboration and goodwill, there is also the added benefit of a healthy supply of fresh honey to be harvested and distributed among residents.

Rooftop herb gardens and veggie patches are also becoming more and more common, and provide residents with the opportunity to use their “green fingers” and have a “potter” in the garden while also providing residents with a source of fresh herbs and vegetables.

For buildings considering these types of innovations, there are some practical and legal issues to consider, such as:

  • Does the OC provide more than just the common property for the activity, i.e. – contribute funds from its administrative fund to establish and maintain the activity?
  • How is rooftop access to be provided safely to residents?
  • Are residents “pottering” in the garden or tending to the bee colony considered to be “voluntary workers” under the OC’s policy of insurance? and
  • How does the building determine who receives the precious honey or the tasty herbs and fresh vegetables?

I’m still waiting for the legal case to come across my desk about enforcing rules of the OC against the resident that took too much honey, or was caught on CCTV harvesting the entire mint and basil plants for their cocktail evening.

Whatever the benefits and drawbacks of these types of ideas, it should be the case that OCs remain committed to blue-sky thinking about ways and opportunities to use the common property and their resources to bring as many residents of the building together.

After all, a close-knit building is a true community, and a source of support for each other.

Roof-top yoga at sunrise anyone?

Tom Bacon

Strata Title Lawyers

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