Most short-stays banned

By David Schout

Short-stay accommodation like Airbnb has effectively been banned by the state government under stage four restrictions imposed on August 2.

According to new guidelines released from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “a person who owns, controls or operates an accommodation facility in the restricted area must not operate that facility”.

This included private holiday rental facilities like Airbnb, and serviced apartments.

However, the guidelines included some exceptions for operators, who could offer accommodation under circumstances that included:

A person, on a temporary basis, who has travelled to Victoria for work purposes;

A person who requires emergency accommodation, including in relation to family violence and other vulnerable groups; or

A person who requires accommodation for work purposes, where their work is for the purposes of responding to the pandemic.

The move is another blow to Southbank’s many short-stay operators. But it is also unsurprising given the state of the pandemic, and after Victoria Police revealed instances of illegal parties within short-stay accommodation in July.

Earlier in the month, they swooped in on a Southbank Airbnb party of 15 revellers.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said that while the “vast majority” were doing the right thing, there were exceptions.

“When I say people are doing the right thing as a majority, we’ve still got others who are doing stupid, selfish, reckless actions,” he said on July 8.

“Sunday night we had an Airbnb party in Southbank where 15 people thought it was okay to get together and party. We issued every one of them infringements because they just can’t do it.”

“Some people are still not listening and if the only way we can get through to them to listen and to adhere to the directions is through us giving out significant fines, that’s what we’ll do.”

Last month Southbank News reported a local short-stay operator was seeking damages from the owners’ corporation (OC) of Southbank’s Prima Tower in what some billed a “defining case” in the context of COVID-19.

Apartment owner Marcela Zamora claimed that the building’s OC illegally prevented her and other owners from leasing apartments in the early stages of the pandemic, and were seeking damages. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Council (VCAT) directional hearing, originally billed for late July, has been adjourned until August 28 •

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