The rules covering short-stay accommodation are tightening up, with new arrangements in New South Wales and Victoria giving neighbours and owners corporations more power to make complaints and deal with them effectively.
A new Victorian law, the Owners Corporations Amendment (Short-stay Accommodation) Act, came into effect in February. It gives owners corporations more discretion to self-regulate short-stay accommodation in their buildings.
Under the law, members of an owners corporation, tenants and property managers can lodge a complaint against a short-stay accommodation provider who enters into a short-stay accommodation with an occupant who creates excessive noise or behaves in a manner that will likely interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of other occupiers.
Complaints can also be made where the occupant causes health, safety or security hazards, damages common property or obstructs another resident from using their property.
When a complaint is made, an owners corporation must decide whether to take action in relation to the complaint. Where it takes no action it must provide a notice to the person who has made the complaint giving reasons why no action was taken.
If action is taken the owners corporation must notify the accommodation providers, requiring it to rectify the breach.
If a breach is not rectified the owners corporation can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve the dispute. VCAT has the power to issue fines up to $1100 to both the accommodation provider and the occupant, and order that other owners be compensated up to $2000 for loss of amenity.
VCAT will have the power to prohibit the use of the accommodation for short-stay arrangements if three separate complaints are made within a 24-month period.
Owners corporations must report at their annual general meetings on the number and type of complaints received, what action was taken and the outcome of any action taken.
The new Victorian law follows the announcement of regulations covering short-stay accommodation in New South Wales in August last year, which will take effect some time this year.
Under the new rules, if the host is present they can use their home for short-stay letting all year round. If the host is not present, the residence can only be used for short-stay letting for up to 180 days a year in Greater Sydney, with 365 days allowed in other parts of the state.
Councils outside Greater Sydney can impose the 180-day restriction at their discretion.
Strata scheme management rules will allow for by-laws that prohibit short-stay letting, but only for lots that are not a host’s principal place of residence.
New South Wales has also introduced a code of conduct, which includes a “two strikes” rule: hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the code within two years will be banned for five years. Their details will be entered on an exclusion register, and platforms and letting agents will not be permitted to deal with them.
A strike is defined as “any behaviour which unreasonably interferes with a neighbour’s quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their home.” The code also establishes a complaints system for use by neighbours, strata committees and owners corporations.