Airbnb laws fail as high-rise party gang riots and robs

Deep flaws in the Victorian government’s laissez faire short-term holiday letting laws were exposed at the weekend when a groups of  partying teenagers ran riot in a Melbourne Airbnb rental, trashing trashing the apartment, robbing neighbours and fighting in the common areas of the building.

Police were called to the tower in the early hours of Sunday morning following reports of violence as a party spread into common areas of the Neo 200 building in Spencer Street  in Melbourne’s CBD.

According to various reports, scores of youths fought and ran riot in corridors and foyer of the building and were connected to ­aggravated burglaries of two other apartments in the high-rise building. A camera, telescope, computer, laptops, phones and cash were taken.

The apartment that had been hired for the party was extensively damaged, according to reports in various News Ltd newspapers. The incident was the latest of many instances of violence and extensive damage caused to short-term holiday letting (STHL) properties rented for parties across Melbourne.

Laws passed last month allegedly cracking down on short-stay or Airbnb apartments – but in fact opening doors to a massive 75 per cent increase in holiday lets – allow for the black-listing of those repeatedly used for wild parties and compensation of up to $2000 for neighbours.  However, they do nothing to curb one-off rentals where, routinely, different identities are used to rent the units.

Unlike in NSW, where apartment owners can pass by-laws to prevent apartments being let commercially on a short-term basis, Victoria’s STHL laws are based on catching culprits after the matter and banning individual lets on a “three strikes” basis.

Alarmed by residents scared off from buying into blocks that could potentially turn into holiday hotels and party blocks – and to attract owners who want to get away from STHL buildings – some developers are requiring purchasers to sign contracts saying they will never put their units on Airbnb or any other STHL letting platform.

Angry apartment owners in Melbourne are planning to make this an election issue at the upcoming Victoria state elections.

 

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