New call to regulate short-stay accommodation

The Victorian Greens are joining calls to regulate the short-stay accommodation industry, as poor housing supply fuels staff shortages across the nation.

The sector is almost entirely unregulated, the party’s renters’ rights spokeswoman Gabrielle de Vietri said.

“Investment properties are being turned into mini hotels at the cost of a family or worker having access to secure rental properties,” Ms de Vietri said in a statement.

“We need to introduce strong short-stay regulations to ensure affordable housing is available to families and workers experiencing housing stress.”

The Greens have proposed second properties are limited to 90 nights of short-stay rental per year and be subject to mandatory short-stay accommodation registration.

Owners’ corporations should be able to regulate short-stay properties that aren’t the host’s principal residence, they say.

Tourism Accommodation Association Australia chief executive Michael Johnson said the lack of regulation was adding to staffing pressures in tourism hotpots.

“What we’re getting is this imbalance of too much short-term rental accommodation, not enough long-term rental accommodation. So there’s not enough accommodation for employees in these locations,” Mr Johnson told AAP.

Staff turnover in tourist towns was particularly high, he said.

“Because if they do find something, it’s too expensive … or they can’t find anything, and they have to move on.”

Mr Johnson said the association successfully lobbied the NSW government for a short-stay registration system and implementation of a code of conduct, but it hadn’t solved the problem.

“It just means that there’s a few more hoops for people to go through,” he said.

The tourism body also met with federal housing minister Julie Collins, but Mr Johnson said most of the relevant regulations were up to state and territory governments, which all have different positions.

“The new federal government came in, they were quick to have discussions with housing ministers … but again, it’s just one of those things that just doesn’t seem to move the dial.”

Earlier in February, Warrnambool City Council on Victoria’s southwest coast introduced a registration fee to short-stay operators in an attempt to level the playing field between them and traditional accommodation providers.

Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan said the Andrews government would wait for more detail on the Greens proposal before declaring its position.

“The Andrews Labor government has already taken action in terms of the disruptive behaviour that some people can engage in … in these sorts of short-stay arrangements,” she told reporters.

“A big focus is increasing the overall housing stock. That’s why we have our Big Housing Build, in funding of $5.3 billion to see the addition of 12,000 social and affordable homes being constructed across the state.”

Ms Allan said the Greens often blocked public housing developments put forward by the government.

“They’ve used their numbers in the upper house or on local councils to not support these sort of initiatives.”

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Suresh Manickam said the sector required more policy discussion.

“We obviously can’t have a situation whereby we’re trying to have a holiday destination and try to accommodate for those people that are coming to that destination, and not having the hospitality industry there,” Mr Manickam told AAP.

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