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New Airbnb Laws Passed In Victoria. What Do They Mean For Your Owners Corporation?

New Strata Laws For Airbnb – But Are They More Trouble Than They Are Worth For Melbourne Owners Corporations?

New laws giving the Victorian Civil and Administrative tribunal greater powers to deal with troublesome short-term leases passed Victorian parliament last week.

However, the new laws stop well short of giving Owners Corporations the power to regulate whether or not short-term leases, such as those organised through platforms like Airbnb or Stayz, are permissible in their buildings.

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Property owners will still be able to use Airbnb and similar platforms to rent out their properties as they see fit, however VCAT will now be able to issue fines to guests of up to $1,100 for making unreasonable noise, causing a health or security hazard, damaging common property or obstructing a resident from using their property.

Hosts could also be forced to pay their neighbours or Owners Corporations up to $2,000 in compensation.

VCAT could also ban hosts from renting their apartments on such platforms.

The laws were formulated following public consultation as well as consultation with Airbnb, which has unsurprisingly praised the new laws.

“These laws will deter bad behaviour and punish the minority of people who do the wrong thing, while ensuring the overwhelming majority of people who do the right thing aren’t unfairly penalised,” Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas said.

Following the death of 19-year-old Laa Chol in a CBD apartment at one-such unruly apartment party, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that the government was “open” to further tightening of short-stay regulations, which would be in addition to the new laws past last Wednesday (August 8, 2018).

Despite this, the laws have been slammed as the “weakest” Airbnb regulations in the country by Victorian strata lobbying group We Live Here.

We Live Here represent owners from over 300 apartment complexes across Melbourne.

“This week’s outcome must rank as one of the worst cases of politicking and back-room deals seen in Parliament,” Barbara Francis of We Live Here said.

Strata Title Lawyers CEO Tom Bacon was equally damning of the new laws, suggesting that even trying to enforce them would be a costly exercise for an Owners Corporation and not worth the time or money required to take such matters to VCAT.

“The legislation is not worth the paper it is written on,” he said.

“These regulations are the lightest feather of a touch and do not provide owners corporations with any meaningful way of regulating the issues associated with short-term stays.

“I would not advise Owners Corporations to use these regulations; it would be a costly exercise and a waste of time.”

Strata Community Australia (VIC)’s Rob Beck said the laws were a “big step forward”, but was disappointed that they still did not allow Owners Corporations to create rules to regulate short stays in their buildings.

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