Short stay owners, tenants face tough new punishments

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Short stay property owner and tenants in Victoria could soon face tough new punishments for unruly behaviour.

The Victorian government is set to introduce new legislation that could see apartment owners be liable for any damage, noise or loss of amenity caused by short stay guests.

Under the proposed changes to the Owners Corporations Act 2006, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) would be given new powers including being able to award compensation of up to $2,000 to neighbours and ban apartments from being used as short stay accommodation if they are the subject of repeated complaints.

Short stay guests could also be hit with fines of up to $1,100 for offences such as creating unreasonable noise or behaving badly, causing a health, safety or security hazard, damaging common property or obstructing a resident from the using their property.

Short stay apartment owners could also be ordered to pay for any damage caused by their guests to common property, while short stay disputes that cannot be resolved through the owners corporations dispute resolution processes would be referred to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

The Victorian government hopes the threat of fines and short stay bans will encourage apartment owners to take proactive measures such as requiring bonds and increased screening to ensure their properties aren’t used by unruly groups.

Victoria’s Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett said the government believed it had found the right balance between protecting the rights of residents and supporting the short stay industry.

“Our short stay industry is a major tourism drawcard and helps to support thousands of jobs. We want to make sure we are supporting this important industry while protecting the rights of residents,” Garrett said.

“These reforms will help residents to enjoy their homes by reducing disruption caused by some rogue short stay visitors. This is a common sense approach which protects residents’ rights and supports our booming shared economy which attracts tourists from all over the world,” she said.

The changes follow a review into short stay accommodation in the state by an independent panel who found that short stay accommodation generates around $792 million in revenue and more than $160 million in wages in Victoria through supporting more than 64,000 jobs.

There are an estimated 170,000 short stay properties in Victoria representing 27% of the national total.

Nationally, the panel found the industry supported $31.3 billion in economic activity and 238,000 jobs.

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