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Watergate: Battle is over, war goes on

29 Sep 2016

The stoush between the Watergate owners’ corporation (OC) and short-stay operator Paul Salter has continued, with Mr Salter winning a VCAT ruling last month over deactivated door swipes.

However, Watergate management did not reactivate the swipes and the dispute looks set to head back the Victoria Civic and Administration Tribunal (VCAT).

On September 7, Member Linda Rowland ruled that the OC did not have power to exclude owners, residents or occupiers from the building’s recreational areas and business centre.

She ruled:  “The Owners Corporation PS501391P must immediately activate the applicant’s building pass(es) for Lot 1708 to enable access to the recreation area including the swimming pool, sauna, change rooms and podium garden.”

At the time of going to press, Mr Salter said this had not happened and he was taking the matter back to VCAT.

Watergate OC chair Barbara Francis told Docklands News that Mr Salter had acted prematurely, as the OC was still within the 28 days it had to consider a Supreme Court appeal.

Mr Salter said he had also offered a “discounted” rate of $138,000 to pay his VCAT and Supreme Court legal fees by September 21.  He said, as this was ignored, he would be pursuing the OC for $149,000, plus legal fees for recovery.

He said: “I do not understand why the OC would ignore the VCAT order, you will have to ask them.”

“Because the OC has not responded to emails, phone calls or text messages and because of the non-compliance of the VCAT order, we have no option but reinstate the matter with VCAT. We lodged the reinstatement on September 19.”

“We are now requesting access be granted to all my properties, and injunction on any further de-activations plus a request for costs.”

“It appears that the owners’ corporation is confused about its responsibility regarding managing and administering the building. They have incorrectly concluded that the OC Act allows them to manage and administer the people who live in the building.”

Mr Salter operates a short-stay business by leasing his own apartment and 14 other apartments that he rents in the Watergate apartment tower.

Member Rowland also ruled the OC was not allowed to charge owners or occupiers an hourly rate for the use of the common room.

As reported in the September Docklands News, the Supreme Court has ruled the Watergate OC could not ban owners from leasing apartments short-term and the OC did not appeal the decision.

“Watergate’s role in the push to regulate serviced apartments and commercial short-stay operators in apartment buildings is over,” a Watergate OC spokesperson told Docklands News.

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