Marley Evans, who lives in his mother's unit with his two young children in Dee Why, on Sydney's Northern Beaches, says he was issued a $250 fine for his kids' noise levels. He said the move has left him deflated and feeling "really upset", particularly due to the fact nobody confronted him before dishing up the fine.
Mr Evans also said his elder son Jackson, four, lives with learning disabilities and is yet to speak, making it more difficult to control his outbursts. His younger son, Finn, is just two-years-old.
"I feel quite, really upset, to be honest. It pushes us to the limit," Mr Evans told A Current Affair, pointing to the fact the family is already struggling having to move into his mother's home, due to cost-of-living pressures. "(We're) just trying to get by every week and having to deal with our neighbours."
Family 'weren't even warned' prior to fine
Mr Evans' mother Sacha, who owns the property, claimed that fine would be increased by 10 per cent per annum, if not paid. However, under NSW law owners corporations don't have the power to issue fines to offenders that breach by-laws, and it is only the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) that can impose fines."
According to the family, the building's owners corporation said they had broken a by-law, by "continuously making noise" including "yelling, screaming, crying and door banging" which "disturbs other residents".
"Children cry and, you know, this is to be expected and it's not really 100 per cent within her control. You can't force a two-year-old to really stop crying," Sacha said.
A month earlier, the family were also warned to keep their dog quiet. In response, Sacha said she'd sent several emails to Fresh Strata disputing the fine, but was told she'd have to fork out $210 per hour to even continue discussing the matter.
"I thought that was very unfair too," Sacha said.
Child's developmental challenges adding to difficulties
Mr Evans said that as a result of the ordeal, he feels forced to take the kids to the park more frequently to reduce the noise, an activity that can be difficult due to Jackson's developmental challenges.
"They don't know what's going on just yet so they don't know what they're doing if they're being too loud," Mr Evans said.
"I was pretty upset. I would have preferred them to knock on the door, give us a warning and say 'Hey, look, can you try and keep it down?" but there was none of that. It was just a straight up fine.
"Definitely walking on eggshells. It's quite annoying to be honest to live here and to put up with all of this."
Mr Evans called for "a bit of compassion" in the future from his neighbours.
"Just to be easy on us, give us a fair go, just like everyone else, it's not fair what they've done to us," Mr Evans said. His mother said she "wants the fine revoked and an apology".
"I don't want stratas and body corporates to think that they can continue doing this and I don't want other people to be what I see bullied or victimised in the way that I feel that we have been," she said. Fresh Strata claims the owners corporation has followed the law.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.