Ben Alexander Strachan, Strachan Research Pty Ltd and House Share Melbourne Pty Ltd - Court outcome

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7 March 2017
Court actions

Two companies operating rooming houses and their sole director, Ben Alexander Strachan, 42, of West Melbourne, have been ordered to stop operating rooming houses for five years, unless they implement a strict legal compliance program (and provide reports to Consumer Affairs Victoria on the program’s operation), after admitting to contravening Victorian renting laws and the Australian Consumer Law (Victoria)(ACL Vic).  

In 2014 and 2015, Strachan Research Pty Ltd (ACN: 082 279 650) and House Share Melbourne Pty Ltd (ACN: 164 365 593) contravened the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) by charging more for bond than is allowed. The maximum bond that can be accepted by a rooming house operator can be no more than 14 days’ rent. 

On one occasion, Strachan Research charged a resident $1035 bond, when the weekly rent was $345. On another, a resident was charged $900 bond when their weekly rent was $300. 

Strachan Research also failed to: 

  • provide two residents with condition reports. An operator must do this if they accept a bond from a resident 
  • lodge three residents’ bonds with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority 
  • give two residents 24 hours’ notice to inspect their rooms.

Both companies also admitted to contravening the ACL Vic by making representations to residents through terms of their residency agreements that were inconsistent with the RTA, specifically relating to: 

  • access to rooms 
  • a resident’s ability to give notice of their intention to vacate 
  • rent payable if a resident ends their agreement without notice. 

Hearing date: 23 January 2017