Debt dodgers beware

The unpaid levies scandal has taken a comic turn around one well-known Eastern Suburbs building with an apartment owner who owes nearly $15,000 to his Owners Corporation scuttling in the shadows between his apartment and his nearby office desperately trying to evade debt collectors.

I’m told that so far in his efforts to avoid being served with a summons he has denied who he was, denied there was anyone of his name over intercom in his home and has ordered his office staff to physically block process servers from getting to him.

A former bankrupt, this character knows all about dodging the dreaded summons “if it can’t be served he doesn’t have to front up and pay his bills. But time is running out.

His neighbours are less than impressed that he owes them an average of $100 each ” and some a lot more “despite the fact that he’s getting a good rent for the apartment in question. A few have even asked the building’s secretary for the debt collection agency’s phone number so they can act as “œspotters” for them.

For any ECs in a similar position, it needn’t come to that. I’m told that persistent attempts to refuse a summons, when it’s clear what it is and that the person refusing the summons is doing so deliberately to subvert the process, can be circumvented by going to a local court and getting an order to waive service. The summons can then be sent by post. So, if you’re in this particular pickle, get your Strata Manager to check with a lawyer.

The good news is that under strata law not only are the unpaid levies and 10 percent penalty interest payable by the defaulter, so too are the costs of recovering the debt (such as the debt collectors and legal fees). Suddenly the idea that you can make more money by investing your levies rather than paying them seems a lot less attractive.

I recently put the question of people deliberately withholding their levies to the Office of Fair Trading and a spokesman said that they were not aware that this was a widespread problem. That’s not what I hear, so come on Flat Chatters, email dominic.wong@oft.commerce.nsw.gov.au and tell him about your buildings problems with these strata parasites.

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