Melbourne is among the top 20 cities across the globe for short-term rentals.
While that brings a lot of opportunity, especially for our tourism sector, it also creates challenges for our community.
Over the past year I have been contacted by many constituents concerned about the growing popularity of online hospitality services like Airbnb and Stayz, and some of the impacts these services have on the Yarra Valley.
It must be said at the outset that the overwhelming majority of visitors to our region are respectful of our community and the environment and are always welcome to come back and enjoy everything the Yarra Valley has to offer.
Sadly, however, there are a minority of visitors to our region who create disruption to our neighbourhoods, leading to complaints about crowded buildings, increased noise and damage to property. I have taken a number of actions to try and help our community better deal with this problem but there are number of factors preventing our progress.
Investing in a property doesn’t necessarily mean an investment in our community.
Absentee property owners who irresponsibly rent their properties to party-goers are immune to the effects of being constantly woken through the night or fearing for their safety when parties get out of hand.
The Andrews Government has failed to adequately address residents’ complaints, having passed the weakest short-stay laws in Australia.
The laws only provide a penalty for property owners and guests in apartment complexes as opposed to stand-alone houses in residential and rural areas.
The government has been reluctant to deal with the issues facing many local residents in the Yarra Valley, instead forcing the issue back onto local government.
Recently, Mornington Peninsula Shire introduced local laws in an attempt to address the issues, requiring owners to let neighbours know in writing that their property is on a short-term rental site and ensure that anyone renting their property abides by a strict code of conduct.
The effectiveness of these laws remains to be seen.
What is clear, however, is the desperate need for the State Government to intervene and work with local government to ensure there are enforceable laws that to balance the needs of the short-term rental market and the rights of our existing local communities.