A couple who just wanted to make their home look nicer are now on the brink of bankruptcy after a nightmarish renovation and an endless battle over the body.
Nick and Soula Hronis’ new balcony ended up costing $500,000 and they could soon lose their apartment entirely.
The Hronise family was confident they had all the necessary approvals to extend a balcony on their unit at the Malibu complex in Mermaid Waters on the Gold Coast.
“When I built that balcony, I had approval from the legal entity of the previous owner,” Mr. Hronis said A current situation.
“I had approval from the Gold Coast City Council. I had an approval from a building certifier. I had approval from a constructor.’
The Hronis (pictured) were confident they had all the approvals they needed to extend a balcony on their unit at the Malibu complex in Mermaid Waters on the Gold Coast
But some of their claims have been disputed and a long-running legal battle found that the balcony illegally infringed on common property – despite being similar buildings to other units in the complex.
In June 2021, a court ordered the removal of the Hronises’ patio and an administrator was appointed who made a preliminary cost estimate.
“We think an appropriate amount to start and substantially improve administration (if not completed) would be $16,000,” the administrator said in an email.
Mr. Hronis, who has a disability pension, paid that $16,000 within weeks, but when a quote was provided by a licensed contractor, the cost ballooned to $100,000.
The administrator told a court that the pair have shown “persistent and pervasive rebelliousness” in the case.
A rate of $495 per hour is charged by the administrator for each phone call taken or email sent, making all the questions asked very expensive.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting the manager has done anything wrong, but with interest added the bill is now $267,000.
BEFORE: The balcony of Gold Coast couple Nick and Soula Hronis is photographed before the renovation
AFTER: Pictured is what the Hronises’ balcony looked like before they were ordered to tear it down
In addition, a court has also ordered $52,000 to be paid by the Hronises to the other party’s lawyers.
The couple engaged five different attorneys during the timeline of this dispute and took out a mortgage to pay their own legal fees, meaning the total cost of what they thought would be $16,000 is now $500,000.
Mrs. Hronis said they would never have taken this route if they thought it would cost even a tenth.
“I should be stupid, absolutely crazy to throw that much money away and be half a million in debt,” she said.
Bankruptcy proceedings are now pending against the couple over the debt.
“They can bankrupt us and take our house and kick us out for work they didn’t do,” Mr Hronis said.
In the nearly two years of litigation, the administrator was unable to remove the balcony deemed illegal, so earlier this year Mr Hronis had it removed himself for $3,500.
But this has led to a new battleground over whether it was done right without damaging the building.
Nick and Soula Hronis’ new balcony at Mermaid Waters (pictured) was supposed to cost $16,000 but ended up costing $500,000
It is also alleged that other apartments in the complex have balconies that open onto common property and that some of them also have eviction notices that the Body Corporate has not enforced.
“Why can’t I be left alone on this little balcony?” Mrs. Hronis asked.
Chris Irons, who runs a strata brokerage firm called Strata Solve, said if things get as bad as the Hronis’ situation, “there are few winners except lawyers.”
Ray Stevens, the LNP state MP for the area, said he is stunned at what happened to the Hronises.
“Removing a patio has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs through the courts, which is fundamentally unfair and unjust,” he said.
A Current Affair reported that of the 50,000 community title settlements in Queensland, the Malibu complex has the third highest number of legal entity litigation.