Short-stay rental operators have won a legal victory amid growing pressure for industry regulation.
A Doncaster apartment owner who repeatedly flouted rules aimed at stopping short-term stays at his property has been given the all clear after he dragged the building’s owners corporation into legal proceedings.
RELATED: Short stay accommodation party houses days are numbered
Report reveals Airbnb’s ‘concerning’ impact on rental affordability in Melbourne
Zheng Sheng Lim, who co-owns an apartment in the Imperial building at Sovereign Point Court, Doncaster, challenged rules banning short-term stays at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The owners corporation had gone so far as to deactivate a security key fob for the building being provided to tenants after accusing the owner of repeated breaches of their rules.
However, shortly after the matter was brought to VCAT the owners corporation admitted special rules it had registered at the Victorian Titles Office to stop short-term tenancies were “probably invalid”, documents show.
In a further win for short-term stay operators, VCAT ruled the owners corporation did not have the right to deactivate security fobs or restrict tenant access to the building, except in emergencies.
The December 19 decision was timely with demand for short-term stays surging around key sporting events — including the Australian Open starting next week.
The owners corporation denied deactivating the fob while it was being used by a tenant.
Airbnb Australian head of public policy Brent Thomas said the case validated past rulings around the country.
“However, it is disappointing this had to go to VCAT in the first place,” Mr Thomas said.
“People shouldn’t have to get a lawyer or go to court to simply protect their property rights.”
The state’s peak body for owners corporations is hoping new laws potentially headed to parliament in June this year will give them more powers.
Strata Community Australia Victorian general manager Rob Beck said legislation would be put before the state parliament in June this year to allow owners corporations to recoup funds for damages to common property and lower the threshold for legal action
“At the moment, essentially, owners corporations can’t do anything to regulate short stays in terms of creating rules,” Mr Beck said.
“But we would certainly hope the government might in the future consider laws like in Sydney.”
In NSW new laws were recently passed allowing owners corporations to stop short-term stays in complexes where 75 per cent of owners agreed to a ban.