Working to ensure quiet enjoyment, liveability and a place to live
Southbank3006 as a community group has an aim to bring a diverse community together breaking down the barriers created in vertical living in the most densely populated post code in Australia.
We strive to be solutions-focused on liveability solutions and redefining how we approach issues to open space and traffic management to encourage social and community development.
One of the consistent themes that people say impacts on their liveability when asked why they joined us is “short-term accommodation”. The City of Melbourne (CoM) decisions in August on this topic need to be supported and addressed by the state government to make them effective and beyond challenge.
The response of the state over the years on this issue has been flawed, influenced by romantic ideas promoted by accommodation platforms of a struggling individual with a spare room or sharing with a “local family”. The reality is that short-term renting has morphed into industrial scale letting operations.
Efforts by the council and owners’ corporations (OCs) over the years have been stymied by “sharp lawyers” manipulating a judicial system fixated on administrative procedures rather than pushing the boundaries by addressing the fundamental social issues at stake and protecting the liveability of residents.
If we are serious about addressing access to housing in Melbourne, then unlocking the 14 per cent of stock tied up by short-term operators across the city and releasing this into the market for the purpose for which these properties were planned and built is key. Reform would deliver the owners of this rental stock more secure long-term rentals which are closer to the market and ensures the asset is professionally managed and maintained.
By Southbank3006’s calculations, based on the information published by the council, a short-term industrial scale operator in Southbank with 50 properties arbitraging the rental market by entering into a 12-month lease and then subleasing the same property for short-term rentals could be making a gross profit of $22,500 per week based on current rents in the area.
This is driving up rents for others, leaving many struggling to find accommodation close to where they work, and reportedly leading to overcrowding in smaller apartments with the number of residents exceeding the design and occupancy certificates.
If 14 per cent of the housing stock in Southbank is caught up in short-term accommodation, potentially this has withdrawn 1600 apartments from housing in the area. Using this stock as surrogate hotel accommodation impacts on the projections that developers have about market demand, and calls into question the planning approvals on which developments are based. That is, it was built to provide permanent housing stock not a surrogate for hotel accommodation. Short-term accommodation then is a major distortion in the operation of an efficient property market for everyone.
Other cities with “destination” areas now focus on the impacts on local communities. The time is ripe for Victoria to take a similar review and not be swayed by “romantic” images portrayed by the platforms and operators driven solely by their own selfish commercial imperatives.
The Victorian Government must immediately create a cap and collar on short-term operators by:
- Supporting the council’s initiatives on short-term accommodation underpinning them where necessary with appropriate statutory rules (the cap).
- Amending the OC statutory rules by modifying the model rules for OCs and provide to include a provision that “a member or a renter of a lot must not lease, sublease, license, rent, hire or otherwise deal with a lot or part of a lot, or permit a lot or part of a lot to be lease, subleased, licensed, rented, hired, or otherwise dealt with for a period less than 90 consecutive calendar days” (the collar). This would strengthen the position of an OC and hopefully end needless VCAT posturing by lawyers for short-term operators.
This isn’t the only one area of strata law reform where Victoria needs to get up to speed. We Victorians are falling further and further behind NSW in strata law. Recent initiatives by NSW to address arrangements on building hand over from developers to OCs and the associated governance issues demand closer attention by this state government.
If we are serious as a society that the issues such as liveability and open space and traffic management are important to us, then addressing all issues to deliver enjoyment in vertical living will enhance liveability for all residents in Southbank.
Come and join us in an important cultural awareness event
We are holding a series of cultural awareness events funded by a City of Melbourne grant.
The first, held in July, Understanding Aboriginality by Koorie Heritage Trust, took place at Boyd and fostered great discussion.
In late November we will offer a guided walking tour by Koorie Heritage Trust that will cover Birrarung Marr and other sites of cultural significance around the CBD and Southbank – there will be 30 spots available for this tour so be sure to sign up to receive emails at our website to get notifications. •
For more information: southbank3006.com