Columns
10 years on Image

10 years on

Alma Doepel refit well underway
Read more >>

Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree
Read more >>

Chamber update Image

Chamber update

School holiday fun
Read more >>

Docklander Image

Docklander

Dan’s a community man
Read more >>

Fashion Image

Fashion

Top five street style trends
Read more >>

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Modern approach to musculoskeletal pain
Read more >>

Letters Image

Letters

Tram no Metro - Bike danger
Read more >>

New Businesses Image

New Businesses

Tony’s back in business
Read more >>

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Take more care with your insurance
Read more >>

Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

Best of friends
Read more >>

Precinct Perspectives

My view of Docklands; from NewQuay
Read more >>

SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

Sharing our vertical commons
Read more >>

Street Art Image

Street Art

Goodbye from Blender Studios
Read more >>

The District

A reading room for our community
Read more >>

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

A Royal Commission into industry scandals
Read more >>

Letters to the Editor - October 2015

30 Sep 2015

Hope lives

On Monday, September 14, Docklands Relay For Life was held at Etihad Stadium, uniting relayers from the community, to take steps against cancer and show that hope lives in Docklands for anyone with a cancer experience.

My sincere thanks to each member of the Docklands community who relayed, donated, volunteered or supported this moving community experience.

Thanks to this support, this year Docklands Relay For Life has raised over $62,000 so far, which will help ensure Cancer Council Victoria’s support, prevention and research programs continue.

Each year, more than 140,000 Australians support Cancer Council’s Relay For Life. Around the world, people in 24 countries come together at this time. I am constantly inspired by Relay For Life participants and volunteers, and their dedication to the cause.

The money raised at Docklands Relay For Life will help Cancer Council Victoria provide programs including:

  • Funding some of Victoria’s brightest researchers and their cutting-edge projects each year to help detect, treat and beat cancer;
  • Important prevention programs like PapScreen Victoria, Quit and SunSmart to make sure people have all the information they need to cut their risk of cancer;
  • Support services including a pro-bono legal assistance service to help those affected by cancer who may be struggling with issues such as wills, early access to superannuation, debt matters, or returning to work; and

Our information and support line, Cancer Council 13 11 20, where qualified cancer nurses give people information and support.

Thank you again to everyone who relayed and helped continue the fight against cancer. Hope lives in every step we take. Hope lives in Relay For Life.

Todd Harper
CEO, Cancer Council Victoria

 

Change your vote

This is my perspective on the recent Watergate special general meeting. It relates to a Watergate Owners’ Corporation rule that states an owner cannot rent their apartment for less than 30 days. VCAT Member Rowland declared this rule invalid earlier this year.

The committee is determined to have this VCAT decision tested in the Victorian Supreme Court at the expense of all lot owners.

For well over a month members have been systematically telephoning and doorknocking every lot owner on the Watergate members register. Security swipes and private phone numbers were provided to selected owners (not committee members) who were recruited by the committee so that they could knock on doors and telephone owners to ask for proxies.

These actions can be verified by owners who commented to me personally that they felt harassed from strangers who were given access keys to knock on their door at night or called on personal phone numbers late at night.

This was a concentrated campaign based on the committee obtaining independent legal advice that stated they would achieve a favourable outcome if the Watergate OC went to the Supreme Court.

During the meeting and before any debate, voting forms were handed around even before the lawyer engaged by the OC had spoken and well before the owners present had a chance to ask questions on the issue.

The outcome of the above sequence of events resulted in the committee obtaining over 50 per cent of the votes providing them with an open cheque book to go to the Supreme Court.

In order for the lot owners who are paying for this legal action to make an informed decision, the Committee has a responsibility to answer the following questions:

How much will the Supreme Court legal action cost?

The committee’s lawyer said “Not very much”, or words to that effect – no dollar figure has been provided. Supreme Court litigation can cost in excess of $10,000 per day. If the committee loses again, then all lot owners will be liable for any costs incurred by me in opposing this action.

What are the grounds for the appeal?

The chairperson said she could not reveal this because I was in the room.

It is necessary to note again, that the committee can only win if Member Rowland has made an error at law.

What is the additional cost to owners if the case in the Supreme Court is lost?

After losing the VCAT case, the lot owners will be ordered to pay my legal fees. These costs will only be compounded if the committee loses again in the Supreme Court. The committee has provided no figures for what this additional cost will be to lot owners.

What are the chances that the owners’ corporation will win?

The committee’s lawyer said there was a good chance of winning, or words to that effect.

Without declaring the basis for this “good chance” how can any lot owner make a considered decision?

Is spending more money on legal fees the best use of lot owners money, when it is raised for the maintenance and upkeep of the building?

Each lot owner must choose. To not vote is actually supporting the spending. The committee prepares a budget each year for maintenance and upkeep – how much of this will be redirected to court costs and what impact will this have on the maintenance and upkeep of the building.

When I was finally given a chance to speak, I stated the accommodation industry was ready to have the case tested in the Supreme Court because it would have greater validity around Australia.

The committee members seeking this court action continue to attract unnecessary attention to the building and deter any prospective new investors or owners.

I urge all Watergate owners’ to understand that the Supreme Court case can only be heard based on the VCAT decision. The only way this committee can win is for the Supreme Court to find an error at law made by VCAT Member Rowland.

You can download her decision and read it at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCAT/ then select Owners’ Corporation List, look for: Owners’ Corporation PS501391P v Balcombe (Owners Corporations) [2015] VCAT 956 (29 June 2015)

Read it yourself, give it to your lawyer, and ask them if they can find any error at law.

As an owner, I feel that giving this committee authority to have an open cheque book to launch a Supreme Court action because of a fear that a rogue operator may enter the building is negligent.

As a short-term accommodation provider in the building, I have offered on a number of occasions to work with the committee to set standards on how short-term accommodation can work without disrupting the amenity of the building.

My offers to work with the committee have been declined.

Ultimately we should ensure that our body corporate fees are used for the best outcomes for the building and not used to try and overturn a carefully considered and well written decision by Member Rowland, simply because it was not what the committee expected.

I urge owners to change their vote to no, to stop the Supreme Court action. It is essential to the good governance of the Watergate building that this squandering of money on legal fees is stopped.

I do have one further question for the committee – why, if the committee’s lawyers are so confident and have urged the lot owners of Watergate to challenge Member Rowland’s decision, why aren’t they contributing by offering “no win – no fee”?

Paul Salter

 

Venting

I’d like to vent my frustration as an owner of an apartment in the Watergate tower on the continued senseless waste of our corporate body fees on pointless litigation.

I have owned an apartment in the building since 2010. Back then, we had two short-stay operators in the building. I understand that one operator, who no longer exists, caused quite a bit of trouble and had no respect for the building or the other tenants.

However, I lived across the hall from one of Mr Salter’s short-stay apartments for three years and never had an issue with noise, parties or anything else. In fact, I had more issues with some permanent residents.

Mr Salter also contacted me regularly to ensure I was happy and had no complaints and that all guests were behaving as per their requirements. I have always found Mr Salter to be an easy person to get along with and have had no issues with the way he runs his business in the building.

My family was recently visiting from South Australia and rented one of Mr Salter’s apartments. During their stay, while dining at a restaurant near Watergate, they were accosted by a person who verbally abused my parents about staying in the apartment and how they shouldn’t have rented it and how Mr Salter is using the apartment building like a hotel.

Both my parents were very taken aback and upset about the whole ordeal. This is not the first time I have heard of this sort of behaviour.

I cannot believe that, after wasting over $250,000 of our hard-earned money on legal fees and losing every application to VCAT, Supreme Courts, etc. the OC is willing to senselessly waste money again.

This money could have been better applied to upgrading the building or reducing our OC fees, which I believe are some of the highest in the area.

The owners’ corporation has to stop being reckless with our money. As a concerned owner, I believe the OC needs to move on and put their energy into things that will minimise our fees, not increase them.

Shaun Megson

 

Nothing but praise

My husband and I have lived at Watergate Apartments for six years. In that time we have witnessed remarkable improvements in the standard of living there.

When we moved in, there were apartments used as rooming houses – serviced apartments three times the amount there is now. Consistent fire brigade call outs and questionable business dealings.

I am disappointed the matter of short-stays needs to go to the Supreme Court but what is the alternative?

I struggle with Mr Salter’s claim that short-stay tenants must abide by a code of conduct.

These are people who have booked by way of the internet or phone. No one has met them apart from a meet-and-greet in the foyer. Unless they are return clients who have treated property with respect they do not have to abide by any code of conduct. Some may, some will not, it is beyond even Mr Salter’s control.

Our apartment was opposite a serviced apartment for a few years. It was horrific. The apartment in question was trashed several times with tenants sleeping in the common areas as they could not access their apartment.

I, for one, have nothing but praise for the current building management and the long-term committee members who work tirelessly to make Watergate a better place to live.

After all, I have never heard a prospective buyer say “let’s buy an apartment in a building because they have more serviced apartments than owner-occupied.”

One final thing … I object to someone making money and running a business on my investment.

Karin M Long

 

It’s become personal

I am an owner of a unit at Watergate and have been a party in all of the legal events that have been going on for some years.

In terms of fairness to both sides, I think that it should be brought out that the Owners’ Corporation has been less than fully communicative up until now.  

I have been trying to get simple information on costs and actions taken by the OC since 2013 to no avail.  Even official complaints are ignored.

Both sides are aware that there can be issues with short stays, but that the group that was causing the problem moved out years ago.

I am sorry to say that this has become a personal matter and has taken a toll on those of us on the other side.  

Andrew Smith

 

Wind solution

We all know Docklands has a fearsome problem with winds so why is there a continuation of solid obstacles that funnel more wind down to ground level rather than porous engineered windbreaks?

I am not suggesting rows of trees but an engineering solution with varied-height barriers to slow down and deflect gusts to make for a pleasant waterside environment.

Use computer modelling and wind tunnel testing to do it!

Billions of dollars of real estate, but none seems to care about improving the quality of the waterside experience.

Robert Irvine

Stay in touch with Docklands. Subscribe to FREE monthly e-Newspaper.

You must be registered with Docklands News to be able to post comments.
To register, please click here.

Docklands is Beautiful