TAA (Vic) meets with Office of Better Regulation


Legislation
that was enacted in Victoria (effective 1 February 2019) addresses a range of
amenity issues relating to short stay accommodation (for example, noise and
public order disturbance issues), but does not address regulatory ‘grey areas’
that enable commercial short term unhosted accommodation businesses to operate
in residential communities. The Victorian Government previously acknowledged
the broader issues that have been raised by TAA (Vic), including the lack of
available data, potential regulatory imbalances between the short-stay and
traditional accommodation sectors and potential risks to community safety. The
government has publically supported the need to improve data collection on the
supply and availability of short stay accommodation; the need to address
regulatory imbalances between the short stay and traditional hotel sectors and
investigate the cost and benefits of introducing a registration and compliance
regulatory framework for commercial-residential short stay accommodation. 

Following an
earlier submission made to a related Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the
Owners Corporation Amendment (Short stay Accommodation) Bill 2016 by TAA (Vic),
a follow up submission addressed to Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister,
Marlene Kairouz (responsible Minister) was sent and a meeting scheduled with
the minister and her relevant advisors. 
TAA (Vic) noted the rapidly changing landscape in which commercial,
unhosted short stay accommodation now operates, with exponential growth of
Melbourne listings (up 132 per cent, since 2016, to 20,406 listings) and
between 45 and 63 per cent of these listings representing unhosted
accommodation, from hosts who have multiple property listings[1]

During these
interactions, TAA (Vic) expressed particular concern that the post
implementation review of the amenity related legislation (noted above), and the
need to also consider aforementioned ‘regulatory grey areas,’ was not being
contemplated until February 2021. TAA (Vic) is pleased to note that OBR staff
were recently instructed to meet with industry stakeholders and discuss issues
relating to these regulatory grey areas.

TAA
(Vic) meeting with OBR representatives

TAA (Vic)
representatives have now met with OBR staff to discuss the extent to which
regulatory imbalances between short term commercial accommodation hosts
(including hotels, motels, hostels and bed and breakfasts) and commercial
residential accommodation providers (including non-traditional, unhosted
accommodation, available for 90 days or more) exist.

TAA (Vic)
representatives noted that short stay accommodation is a direct substitute for
more traditional hotel accommodation, yet is not subject to the same regulatory
controls. We referenced the proliferation of new listings in Melbourne over the
past two years and the increased prevalence of commercial-residential
Airbnb-style ‘hotels’ in CBD Melbourne.

We outlined
how the regulatory environment differs between traditional hotels and
commercial-residential short stay listings, particularly relating to food
safety compliance; fire safety and the need for adequate fire suppression
systems; disability access provisions, cost and time delays relating to
development applications; taxation and tax avoidance, and the significantly
greater numbers of staff who are employed, under relevant awards, in the hotel
industry. As opposed to the ‘gig economy’ staffing platforms that can be/are
being used in a short stay, unregulated setting without the same compliance
costs.

TAA (Vic)
contended that a notificatory approach (where hosts would need to notify a
local authority of their intention to use their property for short stay
accommodation) to regulation would enable compliance to be rationalised,
through property registration, a cap on the number of nights an unregulated
property can be let (90 nights) and outlined a ‘One, Host, One Home Policy’
that would ensure hosts who have multiple unhosted listings, and want to
operate without a cap on nights, are subject to the same regulatory controls as
traditional hotels.

Information
generated from the OBR’s stakeholder discussions will be used by them to
formulate a report to be sent to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV). The OBR
report will be finalised and sent to CAV by the end of this year. A subsequent
CAV report, informed by the OBR report’s findings,  will be used by the Victorian Government “to
investigate whether further amendments may be required,” to address TAA (Vic)’s
recommendation, that was supported both in the Parliamentary Environment and
Planning Committee’s findings, post the Parliamentary Inquiry, then “supported
in full” in the government’s response to the Committee’s report. It recommended
“the Victorian Government investigates the costs and benefits of introducing a
registration and compliance regulatory framework for commercial-residential
short stay accommodation providers, where properties are listed for more than
90 days and a single owner, whether person or entity, has multiple (property)
listings.[2]” 


[1]
Inside Airbnb data and AHURI
Technological disruption in private housing markets: the case of Airbnb report

[2]
Victorian Government response to Environment and Planning Committee Inquiry
into the Owners Corporations Amendment (Short stay Accommodation) Bill 2016 –
Recommendation 5 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *