April 18, 2017
Just 81 Victorian properties removed from Airbnb
Short-stay website Airbnb says it has removed just 81 property listings in Victoria over the past year, despite horror stories of neighbours subjected to party houses listed for rent online.
But a group representing Melbourne apartment buildings wants stronger protections against owners and commercial operators who list properties on short-stay sites without regard for the wellbeing of neighbours.
Airbnb's head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas, told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that the online operator had recently introduced a new online tool for neighbours to report problems .
The popular Airbnb site is among several other operators that allow people to list properties online for short-term tenants.
A CCTV still submitted to the inquiry shows short-stay guests at a Melbourne apartment tower in February. Image shows guests in bathing costumes, with alcohol in the lift in the early hours of the morning. Photo: CCTV
Mr Thomas said the vast majority of Airbnb hosts acted responsibly, with most sharing the homes they lived in.
"When issues do arise in those very rare circumstances, we work very closely with our community to try and resolve them," Mr Thomas said.
He said Airbnb took property damage and disruption to neighbours seriously.
"But we do have a fundamental view that an individual should have a right to share the home they live in," he said.
Airbnb has about 26,000 property listings across Victoria.
Last year lobby group We Live Here was formed to represent the interests of 200 apartment buildings in Melbourne
The group's director, Marshall Delves, said allowing absent landlords and commercial operators to list their properties on short-stay sites meant they were not accountable to neighbours.
We Live Here wants a minimum of 30-day stays in apartment buildings where entire units are leased out. However, the group is happy for units to be listed on short-stay sites if the owner or a permanent tenant remains home.
"We have no objection to people renting out a spare room on Airbnb or other platforms," Mr Delves said. "The people renting it out are there in the building and controlling it."
Mr Delves, resident and building manager of Watergate Apartments in Docklands, said residents had grown fed up with short-stay tenants partying into the night, blocking lifts and even drug-dealing.
He said the vast majority of owners at Watergate did not want short-stays there.
Parliament's Environment and Planning Committee chairman, David Davis, said he was shocked by the evidence of poor behaviour that was submitted to the inquiry.
The inquiry is examining a range of issues relating to short-stay letting, including its impact on individuals, families, apartment owners and owners' corporations.
Last year, the state government announced plans to introduce new laws to crackdown on landlords whose properties are used for "perpetual parties" on short-stay sites.
Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz said short-stay accommodation was vital for Victoria's tourism industry. "Our bill is about ensuring we keep pace with the way people live and use their homes as well as crack down on unruly guests," she said.