Getting Ready for Schoolies: A Guide for Strata Communities on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast

Every year, as the calendar flips to November, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast brace themselves for a tidal wave of young visitors, all ready to celebrate the end of their school years. “Schoolies”, as it’s known, is an exciting but potentially challenging time for strata communities in these coastal paradises. At Stratacare, we understand the unique concerns and responsibilities that come with hosting Schoolies.

For many owners, Schoolies is a much-needed financial windfall for those suffering through inflation, rising rates and a cost of living crisis but for many others it’s a huge disruption to how their community normally operates.

Apartment communities must find the right balance to both take advantage of the financial opportunities that Schoolies presents while protecting property and other residents as much as possible.

If you live within an strata community that is used for short term holiday letting, hopefully you have already taken into consideration what impact schoolies may have on you and your block. Impacts such as noise, safety, excess rubbish, and careless use of common property.

In this guide we will lead you through the steps to ensure your strata community is prepared for Schoolies celebrations, fostering a safe and enjoyable environment for all residents and protects the body corporate community against increased risks.

Communication and Education

The first step in preparing for Schoolies Week is communication. It’s essential to keep residents informed and educated about the upcoming event. Consider sending out newsletters, emails, or notices to provide information about the dates of Schoolies Week, expected visitor numbers, and any planned community activities.

Additionally, educating your residents about the importance of respectful behaviour and the rules and regulations of your strata community can go a long way in preventing disruptions. Make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and knows how to report any issues to the body corporate management.

Increased Security Measures

During Schoolies Week, your strata community may experience an influx of visitors and, at times, unexpected incidents. To maintain a safe environment, it’s advisable to consider increasing security measures. This could involve:

  • Hiring extra security personnel during the peak Schoolies dates.
  • Implementing key-card access for the strata complex to control entry.
  • Installing security cameras in common areas.
  • Enforcing a strict visitor registration process.

These measures will help you manage and monitor the influx of guests and maintain a peaceful living environment for all residents.

Noise Control

Noise is one of the most common complaints during Schoolies Week. Your body corporate should establish and enforce specific noise policies and curfews. Inform all residents and visitors about these rules and be prepared to respond swiftly to any noise disturbances.

You might also consider distributing courtesy notices to residents and visitors, reminding them to be respectful of their neighbours during the night hours.

 

Emergency Plans

In the event of unforeseen incidents, having a well-defined emergency plan is crucial. Collaborate with local authorities, such as the police and emergency services, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and can respond promptly in case of an emergency.

Educate residents and visitors about emergency procedures and evacuation routes. Make sure that all necessary contact information is readily available and accessible in common areas, and have a clear line of communication with your strata community’s management team.

 

Managing Increased Risks and Cracking Down on Dangerous Behaviour

 

Strata communities be doing whatever is within their power to mitigate against the increased risks of Schoolies. Securing rooftops to prevent dangerous stunts, setting non-negotiable ground rules about behaviour that includes failing to comply with pool rules, noise limitations, capped guest numbers and zero-tolerance for balcony hopping is a must.

Working Together with School Leavers and Parents

It’s important to work together with school leavers and parents to ensure ground rules are laid down clearly from the beginning.

Make sure there is a policy for building rules and regulations to be supplied that includes noise restriction times, guest visiting hours, the use of glass in pool areas and the cost of fixing damages to assets.

Don’t let ignorance be a potential excuse for failure to comply.

Mitigating Against Potential Damage

Unit-owners can never entirely accident-proof a property but if your property is being used for schoolies accommodation, removing expensive and vulnerable items is a good first step.

The simplest thing that owners can do is remove any items from the property that are very valuable or breakable like glass coffee tables, framed artwork or vases that can be knocked over and easily damaged.

School leavers face losing their often-substantial bond if property or its contents are damaged. They should be encouraged to document the condition of rentals upon arrival. If school leavers treat the property in a respectful manner, then getting their bond back won’t be an issue.

Dangerous Balcony Behaviour

Schoolies is a rite of passage for many young Australians but unfortunately comes with the almost annual tragic circumstance of young revellers falling from balconies, seriously injuring themselves or dying.

Strata communities hosting schoolies must be extra vigilant in and cracking down on dangerous balcony behaviour, with a zero-tolerance policy for bad behaviour.

 

Late Night Evictions

While managers and accommodation providers should have zero-tolerance for bad-behaviour, care must be taken around late-night evictions.

Buildings should not hesitate to evict individuals or groups that disregard the rules, however, managers must take steps to ensure school-leavers aren’t kicked out onto the street at 2 am with nowhere to go, especially if they are intoxicated.

 

Not-Discriminating

It is important for strata communities to remember that you can’t treat schoolies (or any tenant) differently from other residents and bodies corporate should not change their regular policies to deal with partying ex-students.

Whatever measure taken to mitigate against schoolies risks, they must be lawful and equally apply to all residents under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997. The Act states if a lot may be used for residential purposes, the by-laws cannot limit and confine the type of residential use.

This means that different by-laws cannot be made for schoolies if they aren’t imposed on other residents. For example, restricting Schoolies from the use of certain amenities/common property.   That means a body corporate cannot prevent a schoolie from using parts of common property that other occupiers are entitled to use and for which there is no exclusive use by-law.

These rules also prevent the body corporate from taking some actions commonly called for to reduce Schoolies dangers, such as locking balcony doors. However, they do have control over things such as time restraints on the use of amenities, and whether or not glass, music or alcohol is allowed.

 

Conclusion

Schoolies Week is a lively and sometimes challenging time for many Queensland strata communities. With proactive communication, increased security, noise control, and emergency planning, you can successfully prepare your strata community for this annual event. By taking these steps, you’ll be better equipped to ensure that Schoolies Week is safe and enjoyable for all residents and visitors. If you have any further questions or need assistance in preparing for Schoolies Week, don’t hesitate to reach out to your body corporate manager for support and guidance.

 

Common House Rules to Protect Schoolies, Residents and Property:

  • Secure rooftops to prohibit ‘dangerous stunts’
    • Zero tolerance for misbehaviour on balconies
    • Respect pool rules and restrictions (no access after 9pm)
    • No glass bottles allowed in the apartment or pool area (bag checks can be carried out by on-site security)
    • Keep noise to a minimum
    • Dangerous behaviour will be dealt with by police.

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