2023.09 Short stays out of control

We Live Here
01 Sep 2023 01:37 PM Comment(s)

The woeful inadequacy of the state’s short-stay legislation remains in the spotlight, with heightened tension in municipalities throughout the state.

City and rural councils are being faced with mounting resident complaints of noise, parties, nudity, assault and property damage.

The intensity is increasing as party-lovers emerge from their pandemic-induced hibernation, as if making up for lost time. And with zero consequences, the behaviour is worsening.

The short-stay industry is a huge commercial business for many operators. Data collected by insideairbnb.com shows that 50 operators control 543 listings in Port Phillip. These 50 businesses are each managing up to $20 million in property assets. All up, there is potentially a monumental $1 billion in short-stay assets in Port Phillip – a big business by any measure.

The fallout from the continual social disruption has led to a groundswell of support and media coverage for a local residents’ advocate in the city. The advocate has shocking evidence of short stay visitors assaulting residents with threatening language, including homophobic slurs, in common areas.

The short-stay chaos in Victoria is an abject disgrace and must be stopped.

Short-stay metastasis – statewide

Short-stay impacts are being felt the breadth of the state - Warrnambool, Bass Coast, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Port Phillp (St Kilda). The alpine town of Bright is beleaguered by almost as many short-stay properties as the NSW tourist hotspot, Byron Bay.

These councils have taken direct action or expressed their frustration with the lack of action by the state government.

As the third tier of government, councils are reluctantly stepping into the breach and enacting fundamental reforms to stem the contagion.

With an election on the horizon, now is the time for the state Labor Party to formulate its policy in response to the shocking housing crisis. If the policies continue to be ineffective, the party risks losing ground across the state.

Industry welcomes micro-tax

For multinational corporations domiciled in putative tax havens, a new tax is fine and dandy - if somebody else pays it.  

The state government’s proposed $5 micro-tax on short-stay guests has elicited fawning praise from industry leaders. Revealingly, other operators in the short-stay industry are bemoaning the token 1 or 2% that this proposed tax represents.

At least we are hopeful, now that we see the first timid moves from the state government indicating that they may be aware of rising community anger.

What’s next?

The Victorian community has been suffering eight years of government inertia. In 2015 the government promised to address only the party issue and even for that modest aspiration it has failed dismally. The so-called “Airbnb party” Act has proven ineffective. Of the 50 cases brought before VCAT, none have been successful. The problem has persisted and indeed worsened.

Victoria needs a statewide registration system.
Victoria needs the government to allow Owners Corporations to make rules on shorts stays.
Victoria needs the government to implement an annual day cap.
Victoria needs realistic and enforceable penalties.

Stop procrastinating. All these basic requirements are needed NOW.