A court has found a landlord broke the law by converting a one-bedroom apartment into a five-bedroom one in Adelaide.
- Si Ren bought a one-bedroom apartment in the historic Mansions on Pulteney building in 2018
- She converted it into a five-bedroom apartment in 2019
- A judge says she broke the law by not gaining approval for the conversion from the strata corporation
The District Court found Si Ren, of Seaford in Melbourne, converted the 82-square-metre apartment in the Mansions on Pulteney building in the Adelaide CBD into a five-bedroom apartment without getting permission from the strata corporation that runs the building.
Ms Ren claimed development approval from the council for the project meant no further approval was required from the strata corporation — an organisation formed to look after shared areas and interests in a group of units or shops.
Each of the bedrooms in Ms Ren’s apartment was rented out at between $150 and $165 per week from March 2021, instead of the previous $450 for the entire apartment, according to previous advertisements available online.
Ms Ren bought the historic Adelaide CBD apartment in September 2018, and told the strata manager that she intended to put up walls to create five or six bedrooms in the unit.
The strata corporation’s management committee said it was “strongly against” the proposal, but Ms Ren sought development approval with the Adelaide City Council the next day.
She went ahead with the work in April and May 2019, despite not getting approval from the council until October 2019.
In November 2019, the strata corporation held its annual general meeting, where it noted that “the owner did not obtain approval from the Strata Corporation … prior to the works being carried out”.
It commenced legal action in September this year.
Judge says approval was needed
The strata corporation told the court the apartment’s conversion was a “prescribed work” that it needed to approve — but did not — and that leasing part of a unit — rather than a whole — also needed approval from the body corporate.
Ms Ren said the development approval from the council meant no further approval was required from the strata corporation for the development or to lease rooms in the apartment separately.
District Court judge Michael Durrant found the development was a prescribed work and needed approval from the strata corporation under the Strata Titles Act.
He is yet to decide on whether Ms Ren should have to return the apartment to its previous state and not lease parts of it out separately.
If this happens, the leases on each room may also be declared void.
Earlier this month, the Adelaide City Council approved a new development application from Ms Ren to relocate the kitchen and bedroom within the apartment.
There are conditions for the approval to make sure the partitions installed do not damage the original windows.
Ms Ren told the ABC she believed she had been treated unfairly by the strata corporation.
The strata corporation’s lawyer said her client welcomed the judgement but declined to comment further.