Consumer Affairs Victoria has commenced criminal action against a real estate agency which allegedly served Notices to vacate illegally under laws introduced to protect renters during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Waterdale Property Agent Pty Ltd (ACN: 121 837 581) allegedly breached the temporary prohibition on providers serving Notices to vacate to renters, which was introduced under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020.
We investigated Waterdale after receiving complaints from renters in April 2020, alleging that they had been served the notices and that the company had also made what amounted to false and fraudulent misrepresentations about their rights.
The affected renters lived at student accommodation in West Melbourne. They had rented apartments from a student accommodation provider, who had in turn leased a number of apartments from the owners, whose properties were managed by Waterdale.
The student accommodation provider stopped paying rent to its landlords and then became uncontactable, at the same time the pandemic started in early 2020.
The matter is listed for mention at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 11 June. Waterdale faces a penalty up to $49,566 (300 penalty units) if convicted.
The company’s registered office is in New South Wales.