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We Live Here

07 Sep 2017

Media campaign reaches 1 million Victorians

We Live Here has been working with media professionals to reach out to Victorians affected by the short-stay industry and we have been overwhelmed with support.

Our campaign has reached over 1 million readers and viewers in the past two months.

The campaign impetus came from the success of our lobbying efforts to block the State Government’s Owners Corporation Amendment (Short-Stay Accommodation) Bill, 2016. The bipartisan parliamentary inquiry unanimously decided to send the Bill back to the lower house to be completely redrafted. The government has until December 8 to respond to the report.

We Live Here is now focussing on the next stage of the campaign to promote the message that the entire short-stay industry must be regulated as a matter of urgency.

The rapid, unregulated rise of the industry has seen significant detrimental impacts for residents, not only around maintenance costs, but also safety and security and loss of amenity for long-term residents. These issues must be addressed by proper regulation.

We need to find a solution that addresses the large-scale, commercial exploitation of accommodation sharing platforms. Sharing platforms were designed for individuals and families to share their home but they have been taken over by commercial operators with scant regard for apartment communities.

During our two-month media campaign six media releases were distributed, backed by key research and background information on local issues.

Thirty known pieces of media coverage were generated over a wide range of geographic areas, industries and age groups. This equates to approximately one story every two days over the two-month period.

The media coverage included:

  • SBS World News (report), ABC Goulburn Murray (interview), 3AW (Ross and John Breakfast Program); and
  • News publications (including online) from all over Victoria, into NSW and Queensland, also Modern Asian newspaper and Modern Asian online.
  • Now we have to engage with the Andrews Government to see there is proper regulation of the short-stay industry for the benefit of the whole community. This will necessarily include:
  • Planning law overhaul;
  • Restoration of proper powers to owners’ corporations;
  • Licensing of premises used for commercial short-stay operations; and
  • Let’s learn from global solutions.

Globally, major cities are tackling the issue of short-stays. Municipal and state governments around the world are developing increasingly mature solutions that protect communities. The state government needs to sit up and take notice of these international solutions.

Some recent reports from overseas in the last three months show how cities have tackled the problem of large-scale commercial exploitation of sharing platforms.

Berlin

Holiday apartment platforms like Airbnb are being over-run by firms with massive turnovers, new research in Germany suggests. More and more cities are bringing in legislation to counter the problem. Berlin government believes it has the problem in check – having introduced a law in 2014 that forbids the commercial use of residential space for vacations.

“We consider that law is in line with the constitution and we will continue to stick by it,” said Katrin Dietl, spokeswoman for the Berlin housing ministry.

Public officials are tasked with policing Berlin’s ban, with the power to impose fines for violations and, according to Dietl, the ban has been successful with some 2500 former vacation apartments being returned into the regular rental market by the end of last year. (From Deutsche Welle, August 4, 2017 – http://m.dw.com/en/airbnb-dominated-by-professional-landlords/a-39972379)

Vancouver

Vancouver plans to licence and tax Airbnb rentals. It proposes a ban on short-term rentals in secondary homes which would, in effect, cut out large, commercial hosts. (From Vancouver Sun, July 5, 2017 – http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/vancouver-mayor-plans-to-license-and-tax-airbnb-rentals)

Paris

Paris authorities are aiming to introduce a new law that will force those who rent apartments on Airbnb to register the property with the City Hall first. (From The Local July 3, 2017 – https://www.thelocal.fr/20170703/paris-set-to-introduce-new-law-to-crack-down-on-long-term-airbnb-rentals)

New York

In October 2016, the New York legislature signed into law a bill that prohibits apartment advertisements for purposes other than permanent residence. The bill carries with it a civil penalty of up to $7500.

Although it was always illegal in New York City to occupy a class A multiple dwelling unit (for example, an apartment building for permanent residents) for less than 30 days, the new multiple dwelling legislation clarified that rule and made it illegal to advertise these units on online home-sharing platforms.

The justification for the law, according to the New York City legislature, was a concern for safety and compliance with fire and building codes.

In a public hearing on December 19, 2016, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement made clear that a key aim of the new law was to target large-scale illegal hoteliers who contribute to increased rent, narrowed housing markets, and neighbourhood gentrification. (From The Regulatory Review, May 24, 2017. – https://www.theregreview.org/2017/05/24/artunian-short-term-rentals/)

Campaign donations

As a not-for-profit organisation, donations from individuals and buildings keep our campaigns going. To register as a supporter of We Live Here or to make a donation please visit our website at welivehere.net.

You can also reach us at campaign@welivehere.net.au. We Live Here members can make a presentation to your owners’ corporation committee upon request.

We welcome your comments and feedback, and invite suggestions for topics you would like us to address in this column.

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