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.