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Action pending on serviced apartments

27 Sep 2011

The City of Melbourne is standing firm in its intention to stop residential apartments being rented for short-term accommodation.

While it has granted further extensions to owners in Watergate tower, the council says it wants to wipe out the practice of using residential units as serviced apartments.

In April the council wrote to 30 owners in Watergate asking them to “show cause” how the use of their apartments was consistent with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Council insists that owners need to apply for a permit to change the use to “hotel” if they want to continue to rent their apartments for short-term accommodation.

Some 24 of the owners are challenging the council’s interpretation and have engaged consultant building surveyors to argue their cases.  Council originally granted these consultants until August 22 to respond.

A number of representations have been made to the council, but the council has rejected the arguments. The council then granted a further extension until September 27 for the consultants to reveal what action they will be taking.

“A building order will be issued to owners who do not respond sufficiently by the due date,” a council spokesperson said.

“If the building order (subject to appeal) is not complied with, legal action may be taken if the apartments still have not changed to long term use or if a permit for the change of use to a hotel has not been issued.”

Inner city opponents of serviced apartments in residential buildings have joined forces to share information and co-ordinate action.

Docklands owners corporation chairman Roger Gardner has been asked to chair a group auspiced by the Southbank Residents Group.

Mr Gardner said his experience and knowledge of the issue would greatly assist the new group, but he was at pains to point out that this role was independent of his other role as president of the Docklands Community Association.

Mr Gardner told Southbank Local News that the group eventually wanted legislation to limit serviced apartments.

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