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August 09 Edition Cover

Business in apartment disrupting resident

25 Oct 2016

Business in apartment disrupting resident Image

By Sunny Liu

NewQuay resident Elena Tsapatolis feels her private life has been intruded by strangers attending workshops in her neighbour’s apartment.

She is frustrated that her complaints to the owners’ corporation (OC) and the City of Melbourne have not resulted in any action.

One Saturday in 2012, Ms Tsapatolis said she woke up to loud noises in the hallway. When she opened her door, she saw a big banner and a dozen people chatting right outside her apartment. 

She later found out one of her neighbours was operating a commercial business in his apartment, with 15 to 20 people getting together for workshops on weekends. 

The workshops are held at the apartment down the hall, but the apartment next to hers was also bought by this neighbour and has been since used as a chat room for his clients. 

Ms Tsapatolis thinks her neighbour’s business is a breach of security and her privacy. 

“I used to not lock my doors because I knew all my neighbours. But now I do because there were a few times when some people attending the workshops opened my door by accident,” she said.  “I feel very threatened.” 

She has filed complaints to the building’s owners’ corporation a few times but the complaints never got through because, coincidently, she says this particular neighbour is also the head of the OC’s grievance committee. 

Ms Tsapatolis suspects her neighbour and the former chairman of the owners’ corporation were “covering for each other”. 

“The former chairman told me it was not an issue for the owners’ corporation but an issue for the council,” she said. 

She filed complaints to the City of Melbourne, but has not received a response other than that it was “investigating on the issue”. 

Four years have passed, and the tension between Ms Tsapatolis and the business operator has since got nasty. 

“He starts to verbally abuse me whenever he sees me in the building,” she said. 

“He also takes photos of me and my dogs in the hallway and it got so ugly that I had to call the police.”

But the police can only act as mediators and did not have the authority to press charges. 

“It’s not a good thing to have all these uncertainties around you, outside your apartment,” Ms Tsapatolis said. 

The constant chattering and slamming of doors have created anxiety and stress for Ms Tsapatolis, who stays at home most of the time and has two vigilant dogs that bark at strange noises. 

“I’m not comfortable in my own home,” she said. “What’s the point of having a security guard and swipe passes for the lift if anyone can get into the building?”

Ms Tsapatolis says the business owner sometimes uses the communal resident lounge for the meetings. 

She thinks her neighbour needs to rent commercial meeting rooms instead of holding workshops for dozens of people at a residential apartment building. 

John Kakos, the current chairman of the building’s owners’ corporation, says he is concerned about the legality of conducting commercial business activities in residential areas.

“It’s not allowed to run a business for commercial purposes without a permit from the council,” he said. 

“The resident’s previous complaints have fallen on deaf ears because it was suggested that the former chairman and the business owner knew each other.”

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