Levies cheats make a mint

Just when you think you’ve heard everything in the world of apartment living, another sleazy little scam comes to light. The latest trick by apartment parasites is to withhold their levies with devastating results for the Owners Corporation that they deprive of their funds.

This is not owner-occupiers who have hit a rough patch financially, or some kind of organised protest, it’s investors who take money in rent but refuse to pay their share for the services that their tenants enjoy.

The trick seems to be that they can write off the 10 percent interest on the unpaid levies because it’s tax deductable. They invest the money elsewhere and that more than makes up for what they do have to pay when their apartment is sold.

Ironically, despite living lavish lifestyles, when they are pursued for the debt they have no apparent income from which the money can be recovered. Is it fraud? Hey, if it quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, you’re entitled to assume it’s a waterfowl.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve heard of three examples of well-heeled determined non-payers of levies. One is an investor owner who has three apartments in an eight-unit block in a beach suburb. His long-term failure to pay levies has crippled the other five owners’ efforts to maintain their building.

More recently, I was told about a guy who owns seven apartments in a prestige building in the city and hasn’t paid a cent in levies for any of them. Again, he gets away with pleading poverty while the honest owners suffer – missing levies from seven apartments makes a big hole in any building’s budget.

Then there’s the petulant former chairwoman of an iconic block who hasn’t paid levies on her investment apartment since the day two years ago that she was voted out of office. This wealthy businesswoman’s next door neighbour has also decided this is the way to go and now, between them, they owe almost $25,000.

Entries for the New Laws contest have closed – the results will appear in a longer article early in the New Year – but we could use a law that means long-term debts on investment properties should come straight out of the rent until the levies are paid off.

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