Landlord and tow truck operator Frank Cassar owns rental properties and rooming houses around Fitzroy, Clifton Hill and Elsternwick.
He has ignored dozens of fines and orders imposed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Magistrate’s Court since 1999 for his flagrant violation of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Consumer Affairs Victoria, the government body with the power to prosecute, has vowed to take him on. But so far, there has been no action.
It is estimated that Cassar has racked up more than $60,000 in fines and other money owed to tenants for offences such as taking bonds and failing to lodge or return them, failing to provide condition reports and statements of rights and duties, and improperly obtaining possession of premises (that is, illegal evictions).
He is alleged to have entered people’s houses without proper notification and demanded money from tenants when no money is owed. He was also charged with failing to comply with the tribunal’s orders for him to repay bonds and unused rent to former tenants.
Cassar advertises rooms and houses on Gumtree.com and a large proportion of the people affected by his actions are international students, travellers and people who struggle to get a proper lease.
Angry tenants and their supporters have organised a picket on March 5 outside Inner City Towing and Smash Repairs, 64 Kerr St, Fitzroy — a business owned by Cassar, to show solidarity with those who have had money stolen
Another protest is planned to take place at Consumer Affairs Victoria. The date is yet to be decided.