New Year, new hope?
Is 2024 a year to dream that the impossible might happen?
Shall we dare believe what We Live Here has been advocating for, since we launched in 2016, might become a reality?
Our reason for cautious hope is that Victoria has a new Premier and a new Minister for Consumer Affairs.
If these politicians are to do justice to their new roles, they must revisit the appallingly weak legislation on short-stays that was introduced into the Victorian Parliament in 2016 following the dismal failure of the so-called “independent panel” on short-stays.
That panel failed to reach consensus after two lengthy sittings – unsurprisingly because litigious, industrial-scale short-stay operators were invited to be members of the “independent panel”!
By the time the legislation was introduced into parliament in 2016, Airbnb was already well embedded in the local body politic. In a cringeworthy photo op, the then Minister for Consumer Affairs was snapped shaking hands with the Airbnb Australian Manager on the steps of Parliament House.
Now, eight years on, this is the state of play:
- A housing crisis of unprecedented severity;
- high-rise apartment buildings taking over the city skyline and neighbouring suburbs;
- the toothless short-stay legislation yielding zero successes after more than 50 VCAT cases; and
- Victoria continues to be regarded as the most penetrated city in the world.
This status quo is scarcely something the state government should be proud of.
To top it off, the parting gesture of the outgoing Premier was to declare a risible short-stay micro-levy, a self-proclaimed fundraiser.
The following case study demonstrates the deficiencies in the legislation:
St Kilda’s nightmarish apartment block: a case study
Party house chaos unleashed: In the heart of St Kilda, a tranquil apartment block turned into a nightmare for new purchasers. Adjacent apartments, both owned by an absentee landlord, morphed into raucous party houses, disrupting the lives of neighbouring residents. For two-and-a-half years, our new residents endured non-stop parties, with gatherings at all hours, several times a week, shattering the once-peaceful community.
Escalation of antisocial behaviour: The chaos extended beyond noise, featuring excessive music, public intoxication, strippers in common areas, and verbal abuse including sexual slurs. Police were frequently called to address these disturbances.
Legal battles and frustration: Residents took the absentee owner to VCAT and due to legal deficiencies, the case failed. Residents incurred a significant legal bill in their pursuit of justice. •
Petition sparks council action: Residents initiated a petition, with enough signatories to obligate the City of Port Philip to review their policies. The focus is on challenging toothless legislation governing disruptive absentee landlords.
A demand for change: In their fight for a peaceful living environment, our new residents aim to see the existing legislation repealed, ensuring better protection against disruptive absentee landlords and safeguarding community well-being. More details on the council website.
We Live Here totally supports these residents and reaffirm our long-standing commitment to seeing the worthless legislation repealed.
We will follow up in future columns.
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