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Guy declares war on short-stays

By Bethany Williams

Planning Minister Matthew Guy has vowed to increase the power of Docklands owners corporations to regulate short-stay apartments in their buildings.

Mr Guy said his determination to curb short-stays in residential buildings followed lobbying from the City of Melbourne and Docklands residents.

“Council and residents have been behind the push and I think they’re right,” Mr Guy said.

The City of Melbourne has made its opposition to short-stay apartments clear.

It is currently mounting an appeal in the Victorian Court of Appeal against a Supreme Court decision which allowed short-stay operator Paul Salter to continue running his Watergate-based business.

The current appeal follows a lengthy legal battle, which originated in 2012 when Mr Salter appealed building orders issued by council at the Building Appeals Board.

Mr Guy said Docklands was a residential suburb and people who bought apartments in the area didn’t expect to be living in “Chapel Street in the sky”.

He described the issue of serviced apartments as “considerable” and said it was time that the State Government looked at laws to strengthen the powers of owners corporations.

“Our intention is to empower owners corporations to manage short-stay operators in the buildings they run,” Mr Guy said.

He said, currently, owners corporations had very little power to penalise or manage short-stay operators.

Mr Guy didn’t provide a time-frame for the introduction of the stronger powers for owners, saying: “I don’t think it will happen overnight.”

Watergate owners corporation chair Barbara Francis said: “We’re very pleased that the planning minister will be taking action.”

Short-stay operators and associated businesses are expected to challenge the move.

Paul Salter is also the chairman of the Victorian Accommodation Services Association (VASA), which represents accommodation providers and businesses that provide associated businesses such as cafes, restaurants and retailers.

“Property owners have a fundamental right to use their property for accommodation purposes irrespective of the length of stay,” Mr Salter said.

“In addition, Melbourne has a responsibility to provide a suitable range of accommodation to visitors in our city.”

“VASA is preparing a formal submission to the Victorian Government. We are confident the information and solutions proposed by the association will help resolve any concerns the government might have.”

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