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Hotel Industry and Apartment Residents Under Threat Unless State Government Acts.

22 July 2016

Court’s decision finds that Parliament would have to express its intentions “in clear and unambiguous language”.


(paragraph 1(c) of decision).

In a decision released today at 10am, Supreme Court Justice Riordan invalidated an original rule created by the Developer of the Watergate building, meaning that Owners Corporations throughout Victoria are unable to prohibit owners from letting out their units to short-term guests.

Justice Riordan said (at Paragraph 178) “In my opinion, the prohibition of businesses generally and specifically businesses related to short-term letting exceeded the scope of what was intended by the Parliament in enacting the Owners Corporation Act 2006…”

Barbara Francis, Chairperson of the Watergate Owners Corporation and a director of the We Live Here advocacy group said,

“At last the State Government has now been provided with definitive guidance by the Supreme Court about what it needs to do in order to protect owners, residents and the Hotel industry.

“We listened to our owners, 95% of whom supported us to pass a Special Resolution to file the Supreme Court action. We had a mandate given to us to take on the unregulated short-stay accommodation industry, who do not pay their fair share of repairs and
maintenance, and who care nothing for the owners and residents that live in the buildings where they operate their businesses. We call on the government to listen to owners and residents, and to change the laws before it is too late."

Marshall Delves, Building Manager at Watergate and also a director of We Live Here said, “The short-stay accommodation industry is out of control in Melbourne. Unless the Government acts now, we’ll see less and less owner-occupiers and long-term residents in apartment buildings. In the future, apartment buildings in the CBD and inner suburbs will be entirely made up of students and short-stay accommodation providers. Why would anyone consider buying an apartment in Melbourne with the intention of living in it as their home? The heart and soul of these suburbs will be lost, and the economy will suffer. The Andrews Government has an opportunity to fix this now, they have guidance from the Supreme Court.”

On 24 May 2016, the Andrews Government released draft legislation to effectively permit the proliferation of short-term accommodation throughout apartment buildings. The draft legislation has been widely condemned by lobby groups, lawyers and industry insiders as introducing no more than ‘light-touch’ enforcement measures against poorly-behaved guests, rather than introducing measures to regulate the short-stay accommodation industry.

Jane Garrett, the former Minister for Consumer Affairs was criticised for working directly with Airbnb executives on the draft legislation and ignoring the pleas from the community for tougher regulatory measures, and came after the State Premier Daniel Andrews recently visited Airbnb’s headquarters on a recent trip to San Francisco to announce a partnership agreement between Melbourne and Airbnb.

See attached document from Airbnb PR - Jane Garrett on steps of parliament with Air BnB announcing partnership

Premier’s Media Release regarding Airbnb partnership - http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/airbnb-deal-to-provide-housing-during-times-of-disaster/ 

This is a disaster for the tourism and hotel industry in Victoria. We foresee that hotel revenue will decline substantially, and tourism industry jobs will be lost.

“It’s too early to say whether there will be a further appeal to the Court of Appeal”, says Barbara Francis. “We’ll review the decision, and canvass the support of the Hotel Accommodation Industry before coming to a final decision.”

Download this press release (PDF)

 

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About We Live Here

 

We Live Here is a recently launched advocacy and lobby movement focussing on generating legislative change to protect owners and long-term residents living in high-density areas. The movement aims to give a voice to and protect the rights of these owners and long term residents, and to tackle issues that are not being adequately addressed.

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