Dust-up escalates

THE owner of Norm Wrightson Hairway in Fremantle has been told he’ll be locked out of his barber’s shop this weekend after refusing to pay his rent.

Morteza Shojaee, who bought the 86-year-old business from Mr Wrightson eight years ago, says he’s refused to pay his rent to the building’s owner Silverleaf Investments for eight or nine months because its redevelopment of the surrounding buildings has made his life a nightmare.

Earlier this year Mr Shojaee showed the Herald damaged signs and water leakages caused by Silverleaf’s $10 million revamp of the Manning Buildings, and this week Worksafe agreed to investigate his concerns that thick dust that’s now coating the back of his shop could contain asbestos.

“He is doing a $10 million redevelopment, and there is a $5 plastic bag to stop the dust, how can that be,” Mr Shojaee said of Silverleaf owner Gerard O’Brien, wiping his finger across shelving that’s not useful for storing anything.

• Morteza Shojaee says his business is being ground into dust while the Manning Buildings are redeveloped around him. Photo by Steve Grant

Camp out

On Thursday Mr Shojaee vowed to camp out in the shop to prevent Mr O’Brien from changing the locks, saying he’d do what was necessary to protect his business.

There’s been bad blood between the two since late 2017, when Mr O’Brien developed plans showing the barber in a different shop and a tavern in his current site opposite the town hall.

But Mr Shojaee has a lease that runs until 2021 and recently had a small win in the State Administrative Tribunal over some contested land tax charges, but says he feels like he’s getting rough treatment to try and force him out.

While he owes Silverleaf around $36,000 in unpaid rent and outgoings, his lawyers have submitted a counter-claim of $85,000 for damage to his business.

Mr Shojaee says the disruption to his business had also been upsetting many of his long-time customers, and he’s got a petition of more than 500 signatures calling on Fremantle council to help protect the “heritage” business.

The Herald contacted Mr O’Brien for comment, but didn’t hear back before deadline.

by STEVE GRANT

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