A leading industry body says short-let rentals could become an election issue if governments fail to control them effectively.
Richard Munro, CEO of the Accommodation Association of Australia, told Accomnews: “The community are strongly expressing their frustration with Airbnb encroaching in on their homes, in particular in strata.
“This has the potential to be an election issue if governments do not listen to those affected as other jurisdictions have moved on Airbnb such as New York.”
Mr Munro’s warning follows a violent incident this week, allegedly at a short-stay rental apartment in Melbourne.Residents were forced to hide inside their surrounding apartments as dozens of young party-goers fought in corridors and in the foyer of the Neo 200 complex in Spencer Street on Sunday morning.
Some of the group were allegedly responsible for aggravated burglaries of two other apartments in the 37-level building.
Laws passed last month by the Victorian government allow for the black-listing of apartments repeatedly used for wild parties and compensation of up to $2000 for neighbours. Guests can also be fined for property damage and disruptive behaviour.
However, the legislation fails to provide the same safeguards for private houses and has been dismissed by many industry bodies as lacking sufficient scope and authority to provide effective control of the sector.
Carol Giuseppi, CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) said: “TAA has long advocated for registration linked with public liability insurance and a strong code of conduct for un-hosted short-term accommodation.
“All governments need to act to ensure there are proper protections for both owners and visitors.”
The Spencer Street party is the latest of a spate of such incidents at Airbnb properties across the city.
December 6, 2017 – An Altona beach rental sustained $150 000 of damage during a wild party.
December 20, 2017 – A police officer was injured after an out-of-control party at a Werribee rental property.
April 30, 2018 – Up to 50 party-goers trashed a $1.2 million North Melbourne property and pelted police with objects.
May 7, 2018 – Revellers damaged a Footscray rental and brawled in the street.
June 18, 2018 – A Carnegie rental property was trashed and neighbours were threatened after an out-of-control party.
July 1, 2018 – Dozens of revellers threw a wild party at a Hawthorn East rental property, assaulting an elderly neighbour.
July 21, 2018 – 19-year-old Laa Chol was fatally stabbed at a gathering in a CBD short-stay apartment.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said: “The government through its agencies is in contact with Airbnb at that leadership level to try to make sure that every protocol, every change that can be made, every process that can be put in place is indeed there.”
However, shadow police minister Edward O’Donohue, said while Mr Andrews “talked a big game about stopping the violence and destruction, his rhetoric hadn’t “matched with reality”.
Even Airbnb’s Australian chief, Brent Thomas, believes Victoria’s new laws do not go far enough in the effort to counter violence at short-let properties.
When they were approved by state parliament last month, he said: “Passing these laws is a good step, but not the last step.
“We look forward to working with the government on implementing these laws and taking further action against anti-social behaviour.”
Airbnb is currently suing New York City over stringent new controls which require the release of details on its hosts across the city to aid registration of short-let properties – a requirement the platform has branded unconstitutional.