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Editions

Council moves on apartment owners

02 Nov 2011

The City of Melbourne has issued building orders to 26 owners of Watergate apartments being used for short-term accommodation.

The council is demanding the owners undertake works required of a hotel-standard building if they want to continue using their units for serviced apartments.

The owners have been given until November 24 to comply. However, the council is expecting them to appeal, which would delay any legal action against them.

The council is using Watergate as a test case.  If it successfully prosecutes owners at here, it is expected that it will turn its attention to serviced apartments in residential buildings in the rest of the municipality.

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

It had granted owners until September 27 to put a counter argument via consultant building surveyors.  But the council’s building surveyor was not satisfied that “adequate cause” had been shown.

“After considering the representations, the municipal building surveyor was not satisfied that adequate cause had been shown and accordingly building orders have been issued with a date for compliance of November 24, 2011,” a spokesperson said.

Serviced apartment owners argue that the council’s demands are designed to put them out of business.  They say that the works demanded are impractical and would be too expensive to contemplate.

However, even if they did comply, this would have zero affect on solving the problems associated with serviced apartments – noisy and disruptive behaviour by guests who have not been properly screened or inducted.

The operators are working towards establishing an association which would be governed by a code of practice to protect residential amenity.

They say the tourism economy (and particularly Docklands) would be devastated if the council successfully wiped out the practice.

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