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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

No decision on VCAT hearing

05 Dec 2013

No decision on VCAT hearing Image

Short-term apartment operators believe induction procedures introduced at the Conder building earlier this year are discriminatory, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) heard last month.

In February, the Conder Owners Corporation made pool, sauna and gym induction mandatory, citing advice from its insurer.

At the hearing on November 11 the OC’s lawyer Mitch McKenzie told VCAT the introduction of the new procedures was proper and appropriate

Residents of the building are required to complete an induction before being given swipe access to the facilities.

Short-term residents are only able to use the facilities after completing one of the induction sessions held each Monday morning. Operators opposing the induction rule at VCAT say this is impractical for short-term residents.

Metro Real Estate is a MAB Corporation business, which trades as Grand Mercure Docklands out of the Conder, and is acting for around 200 lots in the VCAT action.

During the VCAT hearing last month, Metro’s lawyer Robert Hay said the induction procedures were “clearly discriminatory”.

Mr Hay referenced a Court of Appeals decision, which said, in exercising its power, an OC must not operate in a way that unfairly discriminates.

He said it was “absurd” that the induction process allowed visitors of inducted long-term residents to use the facilities but prevented short-term residents and their guests from using them.

“So you are in a better position if you are the guest of a long-term resident than if you are a short-term resident,” Mr Hay said.

Mr Hay also referred to the insurance document the Conder OC relied on when passing the resolution for the induction procedures.

He said the insurance document was dated April 2011, but the meeting where the resolution was passed was not until December 6, 2012. He said residents were not advised of the induction procedure until January 31, 2012, suggesting there was no urgency about the matter.

Short-stay operator Lyn Kelly said she believed the introduction of induction procedures at the Conder had nothing to do with insurance.

Lyn and Peter Kelly manage Docklands Private Collection of Apartments and, when they launched VCAT action personally (independent of their business) owned one apartment and managed four apartments at Conder.

Since launching the action, they have sold their apartment and now manage just two apartments in the building.

“I feel this is all about the serviced apartment business,” Ms Kelly said.

But the Mr McKenzie said the rule restricting access to the gym, sauna and pool was proper and appropriate.

He said it flowed from the rule that allowed body corporates to ensure safety and security of common property.

“There’s an unfortunate tension and it’s been read as if it’s intended to make things difficult for short-term residents,” Mr McKenzie said.

He said people would be differently affected by the rules and it was unfortunate that short-term users may be affected.

He said there was already discrimination inherent in the existing arrangement in so far as children and non-residents not being allowed to use the gym.

The parties have been granted temporary access to the facilities until a decision is reached by VCAT.

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