It worked for Alfred Dreyfus
Issue 1 - Shabbiness - the quality of looking old or in bad condition because of not being cared for.
"Our property manager and the Owners Committee have allowed our building, 34 Union Street, to fall into a such a state of poor repair that property values are at risk. This paper will demonstrate the truth of this assertion”. Tony Blackmore 401

The maintenance and cleanliness of the building that houses our apartments and townhouses is managed by MIA, a professional property manager, and the committee elected by the owners. They have failed in their duty to properly maintain our building. Owners and residents must demand action.

The talents and ideas of the rest of us could lift 34 Union Street from its present state of shabbiness to a quality that would make life here more enjoyable. Sadly your committee has barred any direct access to them and delivers no reports of their activities other than the sparse minutes of their bi-monthly meetings.

Tenants should notify their agent or owner that copies of this note will be available at sapani.id.au Photographs are also available on this site.

Criticism and bright ideas can either be emailed to Tony Blackmore at 34unionSt@iinet.net.au or deposited in mailbox 401.


The cladding restoration recently completed seems well done. It is probably the last of the restorations needed to recover from our initial building woes. Unfortunately while MIA and your Owners Committee wrestled with the problem of who should do that job, the routine maintenance of our property has fallen to an unacceptable standard. The quality of minor repair work is poor and many long-standing problems have been totally ignored.

Take a little walk with me starting in the front of our building at the RMIT boundary next to the Café. This boundary is defined by a ramshackle cyclone wire fence. It’s an ugly start to our tour and one that can be easily improved. The paved strip that extends from here across to our front door and parallel to the council footpath is green with mildew when damp.

Move to the west corner of the café and note the small, badly installed, access cover. The depression is a receptacle for dirt, cigarette butts and leaves. It’s easily fixed, but yellow tape and a security warning has been considered sufficient. Avert your gaze from the garage door, that’s another story.

In front of the Osteopath, there is a crack across the paving and the following two paving segments have subsided enough to be unsightly. These three slabs need to be on the repair agenda. Now on to the front entrance.

On your left is the meter cabinet that had graffiti on the doors for months after a resident’s report. It has a badly repaired door where the right-hand stile dropped about a centimetre leaving gaps above the door frame and the door. The repairer filled the gap above the frame with caulking. The gap above the door remains. A proper repair, restoring the stile to its position and eliminating both gaps, may have taken the same time and cost but required getting the key from MIA to open the door.

At your feet you will see a substantial crack across the full width of the entrance. It’s been there for years and now is growing its own crop of weeds. It is said that years back a lady broke the heel of an expensive shoe in this crack. It could happen again.

Between the crack and the west side glass panel is a triangular area where a puddle forms during rain and leaks into the mail room. Self-levelling cement will fix this if management bothered.

Now move into our lobby. The polished concrete floor has been described as the worst in Melbourne. There should be a plan, even a distant plan to resurface it, but no, your management seems content.

Ahead you see some disarranged cedar planters with an ugly display of monsteras. The planters were intended to cover the areas of the lobby floor alongside the west wall that remained unpolished and damaged with fastener holes after they were exposed during the wall reconstruction, part of our initial problems.

It is said that the fire service people complained about the plants interfering with access to the monitoring panel. Surely a change to smaller plants is a better solution than to expose the unpolished concrete?

The north end planter was also moved because the plants couldn’t stand the heat of the sun. The real explanation was poor maintenance and bad plant selection. The disarranged planters add to the squalor.

Now we’ll avoid the lift and head to the front stairs. As you are about to enter you may notice the sullage pit cover on the far side of the car park entry. This was not properly closed after its last opening, leaving a 1-centimetre ridge. The MIA solution was not to open the lid and remove the obstruction, but to put yellow tape around it and note it a as a security hazard.

The filth of the stairs leading up to level 1 has been there since day one. Some efforts were made to clean them, but abandoned as too difficult.

Open the lift entrance to L1 and you will see at your feet, rust on the tiles, and an incredibly dirty metal lift sill. The dirt on the lift sill and to a less extent on L2 and L3, is cement remaining from the original 2010 construction. It is removable with a little effort. We could continue our tour, but surely that’s enough.

Management’s tour of inspection

In August 2022 Rob Papp of MIA and Owners Committee members Sam LoCastro and Erika Oates, conducted an inspection tour. Like my tour they started outside the building near the front entrance.

Their report has a reference to commendable work improving the nature strip. They enter the building and discuss security issues. No comment about the graffiti that was decorating the meter box at that time.

Then the first maintenance issue. During the reconstruction of the west wall of the foyer, concrete was broken away from the foundations under the north west corner of the lobby. This was pointed out to the MIA maintenance person who promptly filled the gap with garden soil. The tour comment was that no leaks could be seen. No suggestion that perhaps the concrete should be replaced.

After some discussion about bike storage and courtyard matters they find their way to level 4. They note the padding in the rear lift that remains from the construction work of the past and state that it should be removed.

The Modwood decking at level 4 is filthy and has been for years. The inspection comments are:

“pressure wash mould/ slip risk” and “Not pressure clean. Use Swirl HP gun (adjustable output). Quote is being sourced for Level 4 and then level 3, 2, 1, and Ground.”

That was in August 2022 and there has been no cleaning. Their inspection was very cursory because they missed the loose boards that cause a tripping hazard. They, as with my tour, finish at the front lift entrance on Level1.

Their comment: “First floor in front of front lift - tiles show rust. This was changed by Lacen Belder. Should it be re-sealed free of charge.”

My comment: It wasn’t Lacen Belder. It is a reminder of the poor SCS subcontractor work. The rust is still there seven months later, and how could they have missed the dirty lift sill?


Next issue:

Maintenance, Maintenance Plans and deception.

And the next: Engaging with the community and how committees should operate

And then: Strange accounting and clearer financial reports