Pub brawl over Rundle St eviction bid

Austral Hotel publicans are fighting in court to stop being evicted from the landmark city venue, amid dispute over whether a request for a five-year lease extension was sent to the wrong address.

Jan 10, 2024, updated Jan 10, 2024
The Austral Hotel on Rundle Street. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The Austral Hotel on Rundle Street. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The Austral Hotel – Adelaide Pty Ltd, operators of the state heritage listed Rundle Street pub, filed a case in the District Court on November 30 seeking a declaration that they are the lessee of The Austral until December 3, 2028.

But the pub’s long-time owner, Malgosia Schild of Austral Properties Pty Ltd, asserts that the operators have “no entitlement to occupy the Property”, claiming in court documents that they failed to properly notify her of their intention to renew the lease.

The pub operators on September 21 lodged a legal notice – known as a caveat – to protect their interest in the property and prevent any dealings of it until their interest is registered.

Schild applied to remove the caveat on November 15, after which the pub operators went to court.

The pub operators are Ian Stewart of Adelaide and Brett Stewart of North Adelaide, according to ASIC records, with Schild agreeing to lease the property to them from October 30, 2020, to December 3, 2023.

It’s understood a temporary arrangement between the parties is in place to keep the current operators running the 140-year-old pub while the contract dispute plays out in court.

The operators are seeking a permanent injunction preventing eviction until December 3, 2028.

It’s the second time The Austral has been the subject of a leasing dispute, with the pub’s previous operators – Hannah Michell and David Gilbert – also launching court action in 2019 to stave off eviction.

The Austral Hotel

Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The latest dispute hinges on whether the current operators gave proper notice of their intention to renew their lease for a further five years.

Under the contract terms, the operators could renew their lease until December 2028 if they notified the landlord via a written request between March 3 and June 3, 2023.

The operators assert in their statement of claim that they exercised their rights to renew in a letter dated March 15, 2023.

The operators claim they sent the letter to an address in Wayville which was the landlord’s “last known place of business or residence”.

“The respondent [Austral Properties] received the Notice of Extension in the due course of post or, in the alternative, is deemed to have received the Notice of Extension in the due course of post within the period required,” the operators claim.

But the landlord denies this, claiming that no letter was received at the Wayville address and that it should have been sent to its registered office at a North Adelaide address.

In its defence filed with the court, Austral Properties claims that even if the letter was sent to the Wayville address, that “would not have been proper service of a Notice in compliance with the Lease”.

“The Applicant did not post the document it alleges it sent by post to the Respondent,” Austral Properties claims.

“The Applicant advised the Respondent that it left a lease renewal notice (which is denied) with a building concierge (which is not admitted).

“Leaving a notice with a building concierge is not sending a notice by post, in compliance with… the Lease.”

ASIC records accessed by InDaily on January 3 list Austral Properties’ registered address in North Adelaide and its “principal place of business” in Wayville.

Representatives for both the owner and the operators declined to comment when contacted by InDaily.

The Austral Hotel complex was constructed from 1880 to 1883 and became famous for its live music in the 1980s and ’90s. It was added to the state heritage register in 1984.

Topics: The Austral
Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.