Greens pressure on short-stay levy

Greens pressure on short-stay levy
Barbara Francis & Rus Littleson

The Victorian Greens have written to the Treasurer Tim Pallas saying they will oppose Victoria’s proposed short-stay levy unless they get substantial changes to the state government’s new housing policy.

We Live Here regards the proposed levy, which could be as little as $10 on some properties, as a negligible nano measure that is openly revenue-focused rather than regulatory.

The Greens are seeking rent controls, regulation of the short-stay industry including 90-day caps, and other social housing policy changes. The party has given the government three months to “negotiate in good faith” to avoid the housing Bill failing.

The government’s Housing Statement says 29,000 entire homes are listed on short-stay platforms. The government’s statement explains why they want a levy:

“These are places that cannot be used for longer-term accommodation or rented out on fixed term agreements – so it makes sense that they should provide some benefit toward the places that can.”

Yes, there it is, documented in the government’s own words – the short-stay levy is a cash cow.

The government needs those 29,000 houses to remain on Airbnb or Stayz.

Imagine for a moment that a small short-stay levy could influence a significant number of landlords to convert back to long-term rentals, which is risibly unlikely – the whole funding model for Homes Victoria would collapse.

Financially, one must admit the idea behind the levy is brilliant – a cash bonanza from a tiny little levy that everyone will forget about eventually. Simultaneously, without any other action to solve the short-stay chaos, it is politically inexcusable.

We Live Here hopes the Greens’ pressure on the government will get results.

New leadership must mend the legacy

After eight years of inaction under Mr Andrews, Victorians have a new leader. Can we expect any legislative change?

The never-reviewed, never-amended “short-stay Bill” was embedded in the Owners’ Corporation Act 2006 despite enormous community opposition. Residents’ complaints have been assiduously ignored for nearly a decade.

The short-stay party Bill was either a case of “drafted to fail” or “failed in the drafting” – in other words, insidious or incompetent.

Under Jacinta Allan’s leadership the government has an opportunity to make some real change. Now is the time for the state government to redress the harm caused by political inertia of the past few years.

For example, a St Kilda resident recently lost their VCAT case against continual drunken abusive incidents at short stays. With the disgraceful behaviour alternating between apartments, it is virtually impossible to take successful action against a single lot.

Premier, let’s learn from other places like New York – Victoria can do better.

Just for a start, we need day caps and self-determination for owners’ corporations. And whatever is enacted, regulations must be fair, realistic and enforceable.

We Live Here looks forward to meeting with the new Premier and having meaningful dialogue – and outcomes.

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