The Owners Corporations Amendment (Short-Stay Accommodation) Bill 2016 (Vic) (‘the Bill’) has finally passed both houses of the Victorian Parliament on 8 August 2018.
The Bill was first introduced to the Legislative Assembly by then Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Jane Garrett on 24 May 2016. The Bill passed the Legislative Assembly without amendment in August that year. However, at the Legislative Council, the Second Reading was deferred until the Environment and Planning Committee (‘the Committee’) submitted their report.
The Committee’s report was published in June 2017, detailing nine recommendations for further amendments to the Bill. The recommendations mainly address the potential for more discretion to be given to owners corporations to self-regulate short-stay accommodations in their complexes and the possibility to increase compliance and regulatory frameworks to better address registration and safety concerns of short-stay accommodations. In November 2017, the Victorian Government released a response detailing its response to each recommendation and committed to a post-implementation review of the laws within two years of commencement. The Government supported in full four recommendations, supported in part another, supported in principal another and put under review the remaining three. The four recommendations supported in full were to be addressed by various branches of the Government, such as the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ('VCAT'), rather than through amendment of the Bill.
On 7 August 2018, the Legislative Council passed the Bill with minor amendments. Finally, the Bill and its amendments were agreed to and passed by the Legislative Assembly on 8 August 2018.
Under the Bill, neighbours will be able to lodge complaints about short-stay guests in another apartment. VCAT will be granted powers to compensate neighbours an amount of up to $2,000. VCAT will also have the power to completely ban apartments that are repeat offenders of short-stay disturbances, if three separate complaints are made within a 24 month period.
Guests could also face fines of up to $1,100 for:
Under the Bill, property owners and guests are jointly and separately liable. Property owners may be ordered to pay neighbours’ compensation and damages for destruction of common property by their guests.
However, the Bill only extends to apartments governed by an owners’ corporation, and is limited to arrangements that are a maximum period of 7 days and 6 nights.
The Bill was linked with Melbourne’s popularity on the short-stay platform Airbnb. In late 2017, Melbourne was within the top 20 most popular cities for short-term rentals, according to Airbnb.
Airbnb has said they support the proposed laws, with the Head of Public Policy Brent Thomas stating:
“[These laws] would target those who repeatedly do the wrong thing.”
The current Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz has also commended these laws, stating:
“These tough new laws will deliver essential protections that apartment residents deserve.”
However, some local residents are not as optimistic, with many stating that the Bill does not address the actual issue at hand. Some locals are frustrated, stating that these platforms and short-stay type of rentals perpetuate crimes, and in turn disrupt the lives of long-term residents with the presence of the police in their area. Others, whilst not affected by parties, noises or damage to property, are otherwise dissatisfied with the state of their neighbourhood. These residents argue that the lack of permanent neighbours undermines the communal aspect of their residencies.
Similarly, the Opposition has also shown scepticism over the effectiveness of the new laws, as the law only extends to apartments under owners’ corporations. Heidi Victoria, Member of Parliament and the Opposition’s consumer affairs spokeswoman has commented:
“It is very shortsighted of this government … It does not help people who have these party houses next door as opposed to people in apartments – this only looks after those people.”
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
Owners Corporations Amendment (Short-Stay Accomodation) Bill 2016 (Vic), Committee Report and explanatory material, available from TimeBase's LawOne service
FREE legislation news, delivered weekly.
Sign up now.#WeLoveLegislation Tweets
NEW information resources - great for training.