AirBNB and short stays in strata title properties

AirBNB and short stays in strata title properties has caused much debate across all states of Australia. Whether it is the noise, the destruction of common property or even the concern of safety of some residents, this issue is creating a lot of attention.

The landmark legal decision made in Queensland late last year saw the banning of AirBNB in one Gold Coast community and has paved the way for further debate. The new by-law, banning short-term letting or Airbnb was ground-breaking, but will not impact all developments or apartment buildings.

Unlike many strata title schemes in Queensland, which are governed by the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCMA), this community was governed under the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 (Qld) (BUGTA).

Both legislations enable bodies corporate to make by-laws, but the BCCMA imposes more restrictions on by-laws. For example, under the BCCMA, a by-law cannot restrict the “type” of residential use or discriminate between different types of occupiers where BUGTA does and this ban on AirBNB was passed. While there are currently more than 50,000 Bodies Corporate in Queensland the decision will only apply to about 200 bodies corporate due to the governing body. So, the debate continues.

In Victoria the Owners Corporation Amendment (Short-stay Accommodation) Act 2018 was passed in parliament in August 2019 with mixed reviews from industry stakeholders. Unlike the above case in Queensland, this law does not prevent short-term stays but grants VCAT the power to issue fines to guests of up to $1,100 for making unreasonable noise, causing a health security hazard, damaging common property or obstructing a resident from using their property. Owners hosting these short-term stays could also be forced to pay their Owners Corporation up to $2,000 in compensation.

It is still to be determined whether this new law has had an impact on short-term letting. You would assume, the risk of a fine may at least deter the unacceptable behaviour caused by many of the short-term stayers. Unfortunately, however it does not give the owners corporation any power over the decision to accept short term letting in their community and just adds an extra area of responsibility to manage.

  • A breach is made if a guest is:
  • Making excessive amounts of noise
  • Interfering with owners or guests of other lots
  • Creating hazards to health and safety in common areas
  • Preventing owners or other guests of owners access to common areas
  • Damaging any aspect of the apartment complex

A complaint must be made in writing to the Owners Corporation who then decide whether action should be taken in respect of the alleged breach.

Tideways, as Owners Corporation Managers will often receive such complaints first and it is our responsibility to present this complaint to the committee and seek instruction on how they would like to proceed. The options will be to either accept the complaint and take the steps to inform the owner or reject the complaint and supply reason to the complainant as to why.
Although the new law seeks to protect those living in strata title, the debate around short-term letting will remain front-of-mind as new issues arise.

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