Residents “angry” after two short stays fined for hosting illegal parties
By Brendan Rees
Two short-stay operators of a Southbank residential building have been fined after guests of two Airbnb apartments allegedly held lockdown parties in October.
Danny Smulders, the owners’ corporation (OC) secretary of Platinum Tower on the corner of Clarke St and City Rd, said it had had issued fines of up to $2500 after guests allegedly breached rules including holding an illegal gathering, not wearing masks in common areas, inviting people (not listed as guests) into the building, and creating a disturbance to residents until 4am.
According to Mr Smulders, police also attended the apartments where the alleged illegal parties took place “and left after instructing some guests to leave”.
“This was a loud party where they vomited out their windows onto my ledge,” he said, adding it was “just completely out of control”.
He said CCTV captured guests being buzzed into the building and “moving freely” without masks including in lifts.
Mr Smulders said it was his understanding that one male guest, who had rented one of the Airbnb apartments and allegedly visited both parties during the night, had also tested for COVID-19 before attending the parties and subsequently returned a positive result.
Mr Smulders said while the male self-reported his positive test the next day to building management, he was furious with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for allowing him to undertake his quarantine period at the apartment he was staying at.
“It was remarkable. Instead of kicking him out and telling him to go home, they tell him he has to stay here,” he said.
DHHS was contacted for comment by Southbank News but said “we don’t have anything specific on these cases”.
At the time of the positive case isolating at the apartment, Mr Smulders said residents within the building were “angry and frightened”.
“My biggest disappointment on the matter is we live in a vertical cruise ship in respect to COVID transmissions,” he said.
“I would suggest that DHHS has absolutely no idea of the risks and the way high density operates in this city.”
In an email sent to residents, Mr Smulders stated, “There are 437 apartments in this building and it is completely unsuitable to house a COVID positive case that does not normally reside here and who clearly has no regard for doing the right thing.”
According to Mr Smulders, three people had booked a three-bedroom apartment and had a legitimate reason to stay because they were understood to be moving from Melbourne to Sydney.
He said a second person staying at one of the apartments had also allegedly tested positive to COVID-19, but one of the short-stay operators had “reason to believe that may not be the case”.
Mr Smulders said the OC manager challenged DHHS on the matter and was “advised that the positive cases were not permitted to leave”.
Mr Smulders said the OC had scheduled a mediation meeting in November with the Melbourne-based short-stay operator of the one of the apartments.
Victoria Police told Southbank News it could “not follow up all individual COVID breaches”.
The incident comes amid short-stay apartments sparking further controversy in relation to hosting “out-of-control parties” and putting residents at risk of COVID-19.
In August last year, police swooped on a Southbank Airbnb where 15 revellers were issued fines during lockdown.
And, in 2019, a resident of Southbank’s Platinum Tower won compensation at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after lodging an application against the owner of an apartment and its short-stay tenant Melbourne Serviced Apartments Pty Ltd.
The application was a result of a multiple anti-social behaviour incidents including guests vomiting off the balcony and cigarette butts being thrown into the resident’s lot •