Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Oracle - Developer Wins Lawsuits

The developer of The Oracle at Broadbeach was sued by a number of people who purchased apartments off-the-plan and then, after the market dropped, did not want to settle.  The developer won the lawsuits, and the buyers have to pay significant damages to Niecon.

Interestingly, the judge's decision (which is long and complex) discussed issues about when a residential apartment building is and can be operated as a hotel or short stay letting operation.

"The contract provided that any authorisation of a person as a letting agent would be in the terms of the Caretaking and Letting Agreement annexed to the Disclosure Statement. That agreement provided for the entity appointed by the body corporate to operate a letting business, and to use certain common property for specified purposes. The letting business was not limited to long-term tenancies. Nothing in the Caretaking and Letting Agreement provided that the letting agent could not conduct its letting business so as to attract short-term tenants and holiday-makers. The letting business involved associated services commonly rendered in connection with letting lots in similar developments and “any other lawful activity.” This authorised the provision of services to guests occupying apartments, including guests staying for a short time who might require room service, a mini-bar and other “hotel-like services”."

"The fact that [the onsite manager] provides guests with certain “hotel-style services” does not mean that the tower has ceased to be a “residential tower” in the sense earlier described. The fact that some of the occupants are there for a short term does not mean that the tower is not a residential tower. The contractual promise of a lot in a residential tower relates to a tower used for residential purposes. The relevant provision distinguished the residential component from the retail component of the development. In its contractual context, a residential tower does not mean simply a tower for owners who are residents or long-term tenants."

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