Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Add houses to short-let crackdown to stop destruction, Airbnb urges

Airbnb says a planned curb on Melbourne properties being rented out for wild parties does not go far enough.

The home share giant argues the Victorian government must target detached houses as well as the apartments identified in short-stay accommodation legislation currently before the upper house.

The proposed accommodation changes only allow for apartment owners and party goers to be punished for wild parties, with neighbours of those properties to be eligible for compensation, but exclude houses from the ruling.

A government spokesperson confirmed this week that there was no intention to update the bill, despite several upmarket detached homes suffering serious damage at the hands of rowdy and violent party goers over the past six months.

Brent Thomas, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, supports the proposed changes as a first step, but wants more done.

He has suggested a mandatory code of conduct for all short-lease hosts and guests, irrespective of the type of property being let.

The code would operate in a similar way to one being introduced in Sydney, which gives body corporates the power to ban Airbnb from buildings and creates a ‘two strikes’ policy for badly-behaved landlords and guests.

“We believe a similar strikes policy should be extended to include freestanding homes as well,” Mr Thomas told The Australian.

“This would ensure all home-sharing activity – not just that conducted in apartments or units – is captured by tough but fair rules.’’

The code of conduct would apply to owners, guests and platforms, with two serious breaches in two years leading to the owner being banned from letting properties for five years.

Wild parties in Footscray, North Melbourne and Malvern East this year all occurred in houses and all led to extensive damage, but it is thought the government is reluctant to include houses in its legislation because it would mean having to amend a series of other laws.

Meanwhile, Strata Community Australia’s Victorian general manager, Rob Beck, has told The Australian any proposed crackdown needs to happen swiftly to prevent the pattern of destructive parties spreading from houses to apartments.

“The incidents we’ve seen in suburban homes have been devastating enough, but the fallout from something like this happening in a residential apartment block would be on another level ­entirely,’’ he said.

“The path of destruction that would befall a strata scheme due to elevators, hallways, lobby areas and car parks all being exposed to this kind of damage would be ­financially crippling.”

About Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson
Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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