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Are curfews and clapping bans going too far?

Airbnb guests face a cheering, singing and clapping ban policed by security guards under a strict code of conduct introduced by Mornington Peninsula Shire.

The new rules, dubbed “lock-in laws” by Airbnb, are designed to end anti-social behaviour in an area plagued by riotous parties at short-let properties.

Under the shire council’s Short Stay Rental Accommodation Local Law, owners must now let neighbours know in writing that their property is on a short-term rental site and ensure that anyone renting their property sticks to a strict code of conduct.

The code includes ensuring guests do not behave aggressively, scream, yell or fight, and ensuring they don’t make ‘excessive noise’ such as cheering, clapping and singing.

Guests are also prohibited from using swimming pools, spas, outdoor decks and balconies between 11pm and 7am.

The new code was agreed by the council in May this year, with residents and property owners officially informed in rates notices this week that they are required to pay a $100 fee to register their properties on short-let sites such as Airbnb.

That money will be used to pay for a security company to observe the properties.

Mornington Peninsula is the third-most popular destination for short stay rental accommodation destination in Australia and more than 1.6 million people visit the area annually on short-stay breaks.

The council argues the controls result from significant community concerns and are aimed at property owners failing to ensure their short-term guests are behaving.

“The owner must control and be responsible for the behaviour of occupants and residents at the dwelling,” the code states.

Deputy mayor Kate Roper says that while many Airbnb rentals pose no problems, party houses dotted throughout beach suburbs rented by dozens of young guests are causing headaches for residents.

“People have been hospitalised with stress … some people are too scared to complain and some have had rubbish and bottles thrown at them,” she said.

Brent Thomas, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, has dubbed the restrictions “lock-in laws”, while short-let hosts have expressed concerns the code is overly restrictive.

Mr Thomas said: “We want to partner with Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to ensure our community grows sustainably and responsibly, but council’s changes including a new ”lock-in law” are a step too far.

“Our community believes there is a better way and is ready to work with the council on developing truly fair rules that protect people’s rights and grow the local economy, but also appropriately manage rare instances of bad behaviour.”

The code states that three substantiated complaints over 12-months (or one complaint where a serious incident occurs) would see properties de-registered and owners potentially fined more than $3000.

David McKenzie, co-chair of the Law Institute of Victoria’s property law committee, has questioned its legal veracity and says the council could be laying itself open to a challenge through the courts.

Belinda Rodman who has just registered her Martha’s Cove Airbnb rental property in Safety Beach with council, told News.com: “I think the shire has way overreacted.

“There were some houses down on the beaches that were party houses and there’s no doubt that would have been disruptive to neighbours. But to punish everyone with short-term accommodation, I don’t think that’s fair.”

Registrations are due by the end of September with at least 5000 property owners expected to comply.

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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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3 Comments

  1. I don’t think it goes too far. If your property is not causing any problems you do not need to be concerned. I am sure that if you have wonderful guests and all is well, you will not get a neighbour jumping up when they hear a cheer (as you do with normal neighbours).

    And if business owners of holiday houses do not have any empathy for the local residents not getting any sleep for weeks or months on end, they shouldn’t be allowed to trade or get out of the business. What is it with this scrupulous attitude?

    These impacts on residential neighbours are real, sleep deprivation and being abused by people you don’t even know is real, overflowing garbage bins and cars parked everywhere is real – people thinking that because they have paid to stay somewhere have a right to get drunk and loose all inhibitions to behave has to stop. It is a disgusting and appalling attitude to think you can treat your neighbours like this.

  2. The law passed by the Council will kill the goose that was laying the region millions of golden eggs each year

    Have you read the provisions
    2.1.2 The owner must control and be responsible for the behaviour of occupants and residents at the dwelling. Unacceptable behaviour includes loud: (a) Aggressive behaviour; Page | 3 (b) Yelling, screaming and arguing; and (c) Cheering, clapping and singing. 2.1.3 Off street parking must be provided for all occupants’ motor vehicles. The owner must provide information to occupants on parking arrangements prior to arrival. 2.1.4 Additional accommodation is not allowed on site by way of tents, caravans, campervans or similar facilities. 2.1.5 Outdoor areas including swimming pools, spas, outdoor decking and balconies are not to be used between 11.00 pm to 7.00 am. 2.1.6 The owner must inform occupants of waste disposal arrangements and remove any excess waste left by occupants

    The MP will become a place to be avoided by tourists – it’s as good as putting up a sign saying “Turn Back – you are going the wrong way – tourists not welcome here”

    Just imagine – no birthday parties – can’t sing out loud!
    No watching Richmond beat Collingwood – can’t cheer or clap!
    No friends allowed to visit because they have to park on the street
    No grey nomads with campervans allowed to enter (might need a road block installed) – we do hundreds of bookings a year from people in campervans or caravanners wanting a night in a real bed
    No skinny dips before bed
    No morning swims before 7 in summer

    The provisions that mean vindictive neighbours can call the agent at any time of the day and expect a response within 2 hours – and keep doing it – without any foundation for complaint

    If we had a property on MP that we operated as a short term rental it would be sold this summer – the risk to business is just too high

    I do hope a more enlightened Council rescinds this draconian local law after next local government election

  3. I agree with the law passed by the Council however I think that the regulations for running airbnb should be more stringent.

    All accommodation providers whether they be airbnb or other accommodation providers should all have to have a license to operate and the license should be dependent on Council approval and inspection of the property before a license is given to ensure that fire regulations and building regulations are met to ensure adequate safety for guests, food licenses should also be required to avoid the risk of food contamination through the wrong handling of food left for guests.

    Simply paying a fee for a license gives no assurance that the property is a safe environment for a guest to stay in.

    I also think that on booking a property for accommodation the names and addresses for each guests should be obtained and only those that booked and paid for the accommodation should be able to be on the premises. The responsibility for any guests staying without the owners approval should also fall back on the guests who booked and they should be responsible for a fine if they let others onto the property.

    Basically people should have respect for owners of property, and the neighbourhood and act in a mature and responsible manner.

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