Our pressure on Labor to regulate short-stays and address the housing crisis is working

Our pressure on Labor to regulate short-stays and address the housing crisis is working
Ellen Sandell

The CBD is a great place to live. But residents are rightfully frustrated by the lack of affordable housing and the ever-increasing amount of short-stay accommodation dominating our suburbs.

In recent months, the Greens have been ramping up pressure on the state government to take urgent action to address the worsening housing crisis. With so many short-stay properties sitting empty for most of the year, we need urgent action to get more homes into the long-term market so they can be rented to families who need them.

I’m proud to share that following negotiations with my Greens colleagues and I in Parliament, the Treasurer has announced a new taskforce will be established to investigate solutions to the housing crisis.

The taskforce will consider three important issues that the Greens put on the table:

Stopping unlimited rent increases, such as a cap on rent increases, like already exists in the ACT.

Regulation of short-stays, such as Airbnbs.

Strengthening Victoria’s vacancy tax, to make more empty homes available for renters or first home buyers.

We’ve since heard that the Labor Government is considering a $5 tax per booking for landlords who rent properties out on short-stay platforms like Airbnb, but this won’t solve the problem, as owners with multiple apartments will still be able to make significantly more money on the short-stay market and have no incentive to put their properties up for longer-term rental.

Instead, we need proper caps on the number of nights a property can be leased as a short-stay per year, in order to get homes back on the long-term rental market.

I first raised the issue of short-stays in Parliament all the way back in 2014, and in May my Greens colleagues and I tried to introduce a bill to Parliament to regulate short-stay accommodation. Disappointingly, the Victorian Labor Government would not support the bill.

But I’m hopeful that with this new taskforce, we might finally be about to see some action.

The Greens plan to regulate short-stays would introduce a 90-day cap on how many nights per year a property can be rented out, along with new rules to allow owners’ corporations to regulate short-stays in their building. These are sensible measures that mean you can still rent out a room or rent out your home when you go on holiday but would prevent investors from buying up multiple whole apartments just to make mega profits and never renting them out long-term.

While the taskforce is a welcome announcement, it’s frustrating that when Labor had the chance to address the issue of short-stays, they refused. And after nine years of campaigning, I know that the community is sick of waiting for meaningful reforms, but I hope this is the moment where the pressure finally becomes so great that reform happens. •

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