Victorian apartment residents have at least another 20 months of disruption to deal with – probably more – according to a response we received from the Government there about any studies that are being conducted into the effects of short-term holiday rentals like Airbnb and other STHL agencies.
“A post-implementation review will be undertaken within two years of the laws commencing on February 1, 2019, to examine the effectiveness of the reforms and determine if any further legislative changes are required,” a spokesperson told us when we asked if any official studies were being done into the effects of the state’s laissez-faire, come on down, holiday rental laws.
So no review until 2021? That seems like a three monkeys approach to an issue which, anecdotally, is destroying some high-rise communities, with reports of more than one-third of some apartments in prime Melbourne city centre and Docklands buildings being given over to holiday rentals.
The latest story we heard was of a group of about 50 out-of-town football fans turning up at one building then partying late into the night in the lobby (because there was no other communal area) then breaking into the swimming pool after it was locked for the night. Some residents of that building are apparently scared to go out at night because of the mayhem in neighbouring flats that often spills into lift lobbies.
You have to feel for Melbourne flat dwellers who thought they were buying or renting in residential apartments, only to have their lives turned upside down thanks to a few politicians being duchessed by international letting agencies.
NSW residents should be grateful that determined owners at least have the choice to ban short-term holiday lets through by-laws.
Meanwhile authorities in Hawaii are joining the global push-back against commercial holiday lets in residential buildings. According to a report on the TravelMole website (sent to us by strata lawyer Tony Cordato) Honolulu City Council has voted in tough new regulations for Oahu’s “home sharing”, which could lead to hefty fines for both owners and online platforms like Airbnb and others of its ilk.
The new laws will allow up to 1,715 new holiday rentals, provided the owner-occupant lives on site. It allows hosts to advertise and list online platforms but both hosts and online platform could be hit with fines of up to $10,000 break the rules.
The new regulations include requirements for monthly reports with the name, address, length of stay and price of bookings, as well as the relevant “transient accommodations tax” ID number.
Holiday letting agencies are, understandably, bitterly opposed to the regulations as they could seriously cut their revenue streams, mainly because tax avoiders are likely to shut up shop. Similar rules in Japan last year saw listings drop by up to 80 per cent in some areas.
“Illegal short-term rentals have gone unchecked for too long,” said Honolulu councillor Ron Menor, who co-authored the new law.T”he spread of vacation rentals has resulted in huge societal costs. It has negatively affected the character of our residential neighborhoods, depleted our stock of affordable rentals, and hurt our economy.”
According to TravelMole, there could be as many as 10,000 units across Oahu currently operating as short-term rentals on an ad-hoc or permanent basis.