sms030106.004.003.jpg for General news.Pic Simon Schluter,The Age, Melbourne. Docklands New Quay. Pic shows a generic image of Docklands apartments. For Aisha Dow storyApartment owners groups have labelled as “an absolute travesty” new state government proposals on short-term lettings in apartment buildings.
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The revised plans do not allow buildings to limit Airbnb-style lets. Instead the government has backed its original proposal of fines and bans for people operating “party flats”, with a review in two years.

The release of the government’s new proposals followed criticism of its original bill, drafted in close consultation with online holiday letting giant Airbnb, which was then referred to a state parliamentary committee.

The government response to the inquiry’s findings, released this week, has been welcomed by Airbnb, which said it should be adopted as the model for NSW too.

The Environment and Planning Committee examined the impact of short-stay letting on individuals, families, apartment owners and owners corporations, and the adequacy of owners corporation rules in managing impacts of high intensity short-term lets.

In its report tabled in June this year, it made nine recommendations, including that the government consider giving owners corporations the power to regulate short-stay accommodation in their buildings.

But in its response this week, the government shied away from giving owners corporations additional powers, instead proposing a simpler process for legal action against hosts of “party flats”.

Apartment owners group We Live Here, however, have slammed the new proposals. Related: $5.3 million windfall for Airbnb hostRelated: Over 55s turn to Airbnb to pay billsRelated: Falling out of love with Airbnb

The group has also rubbished the government’s plan to hold a review of how the legislation would be working in two years’ time.

We Live Here director Marshall Delves said: “The reality is that if this bill passes, then Victoria will be open for business to short-stay operators 365 nights of the year every year, for all time.

“The government is proposing to give Airbnb free rein to do what it pleases, while residents are forced to suffer. If the Bill passes, the combination of higher maintenance costs, reduced amenity, breaches of security and a loss of community means that apartments in Melbourne will be a ‘lemon’ for anyone expecting to live in the units, let alone raise a family. Apartment towers will simply become hotels, and owners will drift back to the suburbs in search of amenity.”

In stark contrast, Airbnb is delighted with the new proposals. “We think the Victorian government’s legislation is world-leading; it is why we have supported it including when others haven’t and have said to the NSW Government that they should adopt the same approach,” Airbnb’s head of public policy (Australia New Zealand) Brent Thomas said.

“Put simply, this is a victory for common sense and innovation. The government’s reforms will provide much needed clarity and certainty for Victorians who have voted with their feet and embraced home sharing.”

In its response, the government said though it “supported in full” a call to investigate the costs and benefits of a registration and compliance framework for commercial-residential short-stay accommodation, it had no plans to do so immediately.

The report also acknowledged reports of violence in complexes where permanent residents have clashed with short-stay guests, and that some residents no longer feel safe in their own homes because of transient visitors, but said these problems would be largely solved by “party flat” proposals for fines and bans.

The government only partly supports allowing owners corporations to levy fees on short-stay accommodation providers to cover increased maintenance and repair costs caused by their guests.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.