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Docklands is in dispute

02 Dec 2018

Docklands is in dispute Image

By Shane Scanlan

Some Docklands towers and real estate agents are involved in bitter, ongoing disputes with short-stay apartment operator Shivesh Kuksal.

Mr Kuksal, 27, came to national attention early this year when allegations from disgruntled guests were aired on a current affairs television show.

He has been embroiled in contested magistrates' court intervention orders brought by building and property managers as well as Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) action from local a real estate agent wishing to terminate leases alleging non-payment of rent. Many of these matters are ongoing, with Mr Kuksal countering with allegations of his own.

On October 31, Mr Kuksal sought election to the owners’ corporation executive committee of 889 Collins St but was rebuffed. At the annual general meeting, Mr Kuksal contested the facilities manager’s report, which nominated two of his businesses as its “biggest concern”.

“Short stays figures have slightly increased to 118, with Zenith apartments / Kornucopia (ZaK) being our biggest concern. We are working with the OC to take appropriate legal action and pull this operator into line,” the report from Facilities Management Victoria said.

Mr Kuksal spent considerable time contesting a budget recommendation to allocate $25,000 for legal matters, saying this was aimed squarely at himself.

Chairman Neville Sanders, of strata-manager Whittles, explained that the figure was a recommended estimate only and the committee was entitled to spend as much as necessary on legal fees throughout the next financial year.

Mr Kuksal was accompanied by Madgwicks lawyer Debra Dunn and a number of associates who audio recorded and filmed the meeting.

Whittles recently told Docklands News it had issued 67 breaches of OC rules against Mr Kuksal’s entities since September 17.

Zenith Serviced Apartments is a business name registered to Avant-Garde Venturers Pty Ltd, which is owned by Kornucopia Pty Ltd (formerly The State of our Times Pty Ltd) and is owned by Aadih Pty Ltd. Aadih is owned by Icarus Foundation Pty Ltd which, in turn, is owned by Shevish Kuksal of Australian Wharf, Docklands.

All 13 Trip Advisor reviewers rate Zenith Docklands as “terrible”. Accompanying commentary allege the business is a “scam” which does not return security bonds.

Accountant Jarrod Rogers, who last December rented three of Mr Kuksal’s 889 Collins St apartments, in July won security bond refunds of $750 at VCAT and this order was confirmed in the Magistrates’ Court in August. Mr Kuksal has since escalated the matter to the Supreme Court.

Via the website of Efektiv Pty Ltd (which is also owned by Aadih Pty Ltd), Mr Kuksal offers car parking at 889 Collins St, 883 Collins St and Convesso in Victoria Harbour as well as in Tower 5 and Forge at Yarra’s Edge.

Another business name associated with Mr Kuksal’s, Eldorado Docklands, has been cancelled. It was registered in July last year.

In September, Mr Kuksal sought to extend his reach to NewQuay but quickly came into conflict with the owners’ corporation and building management at Conder tower. His single tenancy has attracted nearly 40 alleged breaches of OC rules.

Mr Kuksal is contesting an intervention order brought by Conder building manager Allan Trathan.

Docklands News has seen a November 9 legal letter of demand to Mr Kuksal from former employees and tenants seeking $9405.61 worth of alleged unpaid wages and deposit bonds.

“Waterfront Melbourne Apartments” operator Teresa Lane has operated a short-stay business out of Flinders Wharf since 2010. Recently, she has added to her website a disclaimer that she is not associated with short-stays in Collins St.

In February this year, Kornucopia Pty Ltd registered the business name “Waterfront Apartments”.

Ms Lane told Docklands News she had been inundated with disaffected phone calls and emails from people who confused her for another operator.

It is understood Mr Kuksal also operates apartments at a number of CBD locations.

A spokesperson for Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) said it was aware of “issues raised regarding the return of deposits from Zenith Serviced Apartments in Docklands.”

But, the spokesperson said, deposits from short-term letting were not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

“However, CAV is monitoring the situation and if breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) are identified action will be taken,” the spokesperson said.

Docklands News asked Mr Kuksal why he thought he was involved in so many disputes.

Mr Kuksal replied: “I do not think your deadline for a response within 24 hours is reasonable, especially in light of my prior commitment for the coming days.”

“Royce, who generally deal with media related matters for us, unfortunately, are also unable to work to the 24 hour deadline due to prior commitments.”

“I have spoken with Peter Kennedy, the managing partner at Madgwicks, who has graciously agreed to have your query directed to him for lack of my availability.”

Mr Kennedy said he had nothing to add.

Correction and apology

An earlier version of this story contained a mistake in its third paragraph.  When first published, the paragraph read: "He has been embroiled in contested magistrates' court intervention orders brought by building and property managers as well as Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) actions from local real estate agents wishing to terminate leases alleging non-payment of rent. Many of these matters are ongoing, with Mr Kuksal countering with allegations of his own."

We have since learned that only one local real estate agent has taken Mr Kuksal to VCAT seeking recovery of leases alleging non-payment of rent. We have learned that Mr Kuksal voluntarily returned three apartments to the other local agent we believed was involved.

Docklands News is sorry for making this mistake and apologises to Mr Kuksal for any embarrassment caused.

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