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Victoria’s Airbnb legislation not strong enough, says community group

16 August 2018 Eliot Hastie
Airbnb

The Victorian Labor government’s recent short-stay regulations have been slammed by a local lobbying group as not being strong enough.

The lobbying group We Live Here represents apartment owners in 300 Melbourne buildings and said that the new legislation was some of the weakest in the country.

Airbnb in Victoria is a huge business, with 36,000 active listings and is used by nearly a third of Victorians.

Marshall Delves, one of the directors of We Live Here, said that the legislation was weak and only existed to support Airbnb.

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“The legislation the government has brought down is an absolute Mickey Mouse legislation that protects a multinational company that pays no tax in this country,” Mr Delves said.

Mr Delves said that the legislation washes Airbnb of any responsibility and places the responsibility on the owner of the property who can then choose to prosecute the guests.

“So, an owner has no rights because they will have no knowledge of the person who was there causing the issues and therefore they can’t be prosecuted,” the director said.

Mr Delves said that due to the nature of Airbnb, most renters are short-term and then go back overseas, making it impossible for an owner to prosecute them for unruly behaviour.

“You’ve gotta be able to find out who the person was that caused the problems and then track them down and take them to VCAT, and it just won’t happen. How are you going to chase someone down who has gone back home to Europe or America or Canada or even Tasmania or interstate?”

Mr Delves said that the group was not against Airbnb, but only to the way it is managed and the commercial operators that use the platform.

“If you google ‘Inside Airbnb’, you will see something like 20,000 listings in Melbourne and will see that some people have over 100 apartments. They are commercial operators running a commercial business with these residential buildings,” the director said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said that the data quoted from Inside Airbnb could not be relied on as it was scraped data which cannot differentiate between many factors on the site.

“The scraper, whether it is Inside Airbnb or Airdna, cannot factor in how hosts use their calendars,” the spokesperson said.

Airbnb’s head of public policy for ANZ, Brent Thomas, said that it welcomed the introduction of the laws but said that it was not the final step.

“Passing these laws is a good step but not the last step. We look forward to working with the government on implementing these laws and taking further action against anti-social behaviour,” the public policy head said.

Mr Delves said that he wanted We Live Here to be invited to the discussion on future legislation, as currently they weren’t being listened to.

“The frustrating part is the government won’t talk to us. They will not engage us. They don’t get it,” the director said.

Victoria’s Airbnb legislation not strong enough, says community group
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