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Editions

Guy shies away from short-stays

03 Jul 2014

Guy shies away from short-stays Image

Planning Minister Matthew Guy has backed away from the issue of short-stay apartments, despite previously vowing to take action.

In July last year, Mr Guy told Docklands News he would increase the power of owners’ corporations (OCs) to regulate short-stay apartments in their buildings.

But in Parliament on June 11, Mr Guy shied away from taking action on the issue, pointing OCs towards VCAT precedents and saying the issue relied on consumer affairs law change rather than planning law.

Member for northern metropolitan Greg Barber raised the question with Mr Guy, asking him what his options were for fixing the problem and when the issue would be resolved.

Docklands News understands a number of Docklands residents living in buildings where short-stay business operate have been lobbying a range of politicians about the issue.

Mr Barber said Docklands residents had contacted Mr Guy, and that he had left it to his department to respond in a “bureaucratic” way by referring them to a current case and the unacceptable behaviour provisions within OC law.

Mr Guy responded by saying: “The issue is one that, in terms of a legislative response, does rely on consumer affairs law change rather than it does on planning law change.”

He also referred to the short-stay case in Southbank in May, in which an owners corporation successfully obtained VCAT orders preventing a short-stay business in their building from operating.

“So there has been a precedent where the owners corporation has had certain powers in existence before purchasing or at the time of the signing of leases by people moving into those buildings. They have been able to take action,” Mr Guy said.

“What we are now looking at is whether or not that can be expanded to existing arrangements, where those arrangement are not in place in agreements with owners corporations in some other towers.”

“It is somewhat complex and not clear as to whether or not we have the ability to retrospectively do that, but that is what the Government is examining at this point in time,” Mr Guy said.

In response, Mr Barber asked why the provisions of residential zoning, under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, couldn’t be used to set out how residential apartment buildings are used.

Mr Guy said this was an option but there was no mechanism within the Planning and Environment Act to enforce rules around use.

He said there would need to be “a substantive change” in the Planning and Environment Act for an enforcement provision.

He said the issue crossed the justice, consumer law and planning portfolios.

“As we have seen from the precedent in Southbank it can be fixed by owners corporations where they have existing provisions within the owners’ corporation structure of a residential tower to then be able to take owners to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get a cease and desist order,” Mr Guy said.

However, he did admit that the Government may need to do more work on the issue.

“But that is not fail-safe, although the precedent is there, and it may be one the Government needs to expand on to those that do not currently exist,” Mr Guy said.

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