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Double Dipping Landlords

It’s a nice ruse if you can work it: buy yourself an apartment in the city as an investment, but use the building’s facilities while you commute from the burbs.

You could rent your apartment without the car space, which gives you a permanent parking spot, no harm done.

But then there are other benefits too. Aren’t your levies also paying for a pool and gym, concierge and other facilities? And you are the OWNER, right, so you are entitled to use them … even though you have implicitly rented them out to your tenants.

An old friend of Flatchat’s who is on the EC of a building in Sydney CBD says double dipping by investors is becoming a problem, for the simple reason that people rent in buildings for exactly the same reasons that people buy – they want to use the facilities. And those facilities are often not available and are suffering greater wear and tear because owners want to use them even though they don’t live in the building.

Yet again, it’s the owner occupiers – that sad breed of delusional people, this writer included, who think apartments should be homes rather than just investments – who end up losing out.

Our friend’s building has a lovely little meeting room that the EC uses once a month and is available to be booked by owners, free of charge, the rest of the time. One owner and his tenant take it in turns to run business meetings in the room, to the effective exclusion of all others.

Absentee owners’ office pool parties are also becoming common and using the concierge desk as a courier dock is seen as a divine right.

Where’s the harm, you ask? Well, all of these things have to be paid for. And the more something is used, the less available it is to others and the quicker it wears out.

But the worst thing is that pervasive sense of “entitlement” that underpins the double-dipper’s thinking and undermines the sense of community that strata living needs. There’s always some smartypants who thinks the rules don’t apply to them while the rest of us, dumbly, subsidise their lifestyles. Death to double-dippers, say I!

NO DOUBLE DIPPING HERE

I read your column in the Domain every Saturday, and I guess I am one of the ‘lucky’ apartment owners who lives in a block in the city where our development consent provides that:

“The on-site car parking spaces exclusive of visitor car spaces are not to be used by those other than an occupant or resident of the subject building and any occupant, lessee or registered proprietor of the development site or part thereof shall not enter into an agreement to lease, license or transfer ownership of such car parking spaces to those other than an occupant or resident of a residential unit in the building.

As well, only those residing on the premises can use the facilities. They can bring a guest for instance to the pool area, but with the proviso that they are present with their visitor at all times. Children under 16 years cannot use the gymnasium”.

This is not to say that we haven’t had the odd occasion when an owner, not residing here, hasn’t attempted to outsmart us – unsuccessfully! Of course it does help to have 24 hour security and security cameras as well to catch any culprits, but overall we seem to do OK.

Thought I should let you know, as there just might be others out there who have similar development consents to myself and just haven’t bothered to check that out.

By the way, just as a matter of interest, couldn’t a By-Law be put in place to cover this kind of situation for those who are not covered by development consents?

NG, City Dweller

Yes, NG, you are right about the by-law but with so many buildings having a majority of absentee investors, it might struggle to get the 75 percent approval. – JT

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