Thursday, September 20, 2018

Failure to stop violence in short-let rentals “an election issue”

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.

They include:

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.

About Kate Jackson

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

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5 comments

  1. Nobody wants to see violence anywhere, but we need to keep things in perspective.

    We do need to control violence in short-stay accommodation, but we also need to control violence in all residential and accommodation situations.

    There has been a handful of serious problems with some short-stay properties, but there have been far more incidents of violence in the form of murders, assault, rape and property damage in everyday, long-term rentals and owner-occupied properties. The latter receive almost no publicity.

    What legislation is in place, or proposed, to stop owner-occupiers, long-term tenants and hotel guests from causing disturbances or violence in their situations?

    Short-stay managers who belong to industry bodies like VicAIA work very hard to manage their properties and guests in a responsible manner. Some managers and owners of short-stay properties, however, don’t do this, and the resulting occasional problems receive sensational headlines that tar the entire short-stay industry with the same brush.

    Let’s manage violence in short-stay accommodation, but let’s apply similar management constraints to all other accommodation options as well.

    • Chris
      It seems pretty obvious that you are in the short stay industry, and I am glad to read that you take care without your rentals. Why you make assertions about genuine residents is beyond me, you should know that in fact the normal criminal law and strata by laws concerning nuisance apply to all occupants. If we had the problems you are suggesting no one would live in strata. This is not just a handful of problems, it is a significant pattern and due to the ease with which people can access these properties. It is destroying confidence in strata living, and damaging the mainstream industry. isn’t that enough reason to ensure there is proper regulation in place. It is unconscionable that any ‘Host’ should permit an unlimited number of people into their property at the expense of their neighbours and expose all of them to threats and intimidation. Yet Airbnb continues to resist regulations and requirements that other accommodation providers manager all the time, and, in strata there are existing obligations which are flouted. Airbnb resists registration and other basic requirements while saying it is willing to cooperate, while at the same time threatening into campaign. Meanwhile, stablished agents and companies that know the importance of working successfully and respectfully in communities suffer. The fact is there are similar ‘management constraints’ and people living in their home without disturbance and fear is abit more than just an ‘accommodation option’.

  2. Thanks for this article. You forgot to mention the rape and murder of a Melbourne man in October 2017 by his Airbnb ‘hosts’.

  3. Airbnb and HomeAway should allow owners and managers to vet there prospective guests and be able to reject unsuitable bookings without penalising responsible owners and managers for vetting and restricting unsuitable groups from renting their properties. The automated booking process introduced by these international middle man booking businesses need to be investigated. They are only interested in instant bookings. They should not be involved in the development of any Code of Conduct as they will simply ensure their business model is supported at the expense of all others. Our Governments should not hand over control of our properties to these all powerful multinationals who are now interfering in our politic system.

  4. Torrettti , agree with the fact that Airbnb openly supports regulation while at the same time flaunts them . Victoria / San Fran is an example in Question. NSW Gov. has permitted them to be involved in the development of The Mandatory Code Of Conduct. Does anyone really think that Airbnb or Expedia WILL develop a Code that undermines their business model .I do not think so ( more likely supports over crowding etc.) . It would be better if Govs investigated their automatic booking systems that penalise owners & managers from effectively vetting prospective guests. The industry it self is great as long as it operates on a domestic level (2 adults per bedroom max 12).

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