Don’t worry, I’m not staying long … Short stay accommodation law reforms

Recent reforms to the Owners Corporations Act 2006 (“Act”), now offer some protection to residents and occupants of lots affected by an owners corporation where a lot is used for short-stay accommodation arrangements. The legislative provisions which came into effect on 1 February 2019, will now impose penalties on ‘providers’ and ‘occupiers’ of short stay accommodation arrangements who are in breach of the Act.

What are the key amendments?

The reforms were introduced by the State Government in a bid to regulate disorderly and disruptive conduct of ‘occupiers’ of ; i.e apartments, affected by an owners corporation. Conduct that now constitutes a breach of the Act includes:

  • Creating noise or acting in a manner that is likely to substantially interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of another occupier or guest of an occupier of another lot;
  • Using a lot or the common property in a way so as to cause a substantial hazard to health, safety and security of others;
  • Unreasonably or substantially obstructing the use and enjoyment of common property by an occupier or guest;
  • Intentionally or negligently causing substantial damage to a lot or common property.

Who can complain?

Lot owners, occupiers or managers who suspect an occupier is in breach of the Act, can make a complaint to the owners corporation. The owners corporation must then consider whether to take action.

The owners corporation can only take action following a complaint if it believes, on reasonable grounds, that the short stay occupant has committed the alleged breach.

If the Owners Corporation elects to take action, it must issue a notice of breach to the lot owner. The notice should outline the details of the alleged breach and state that the breach be rectified.

If the breach is not rectified after a notice has been issued, the owners corporation may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which has the power to order one or more of the following:

  • A prohibition order precluding an owner from using the lot for short stay accommodation for a period of time;
  • Compensation for loss of amenity of up to $2,000 in favour of an occupier who resides in the same building as the short stay occupant;
  • A civil penalty of up to $1,100 on the occupant.

The reforms apply to you if:

  • The lot is affected by an owners corporation and that lot is subject to a lease or licence to occupy;
  • The lot is used for “short-stay arrangements” that do not exceed a stay of 6 nights and 7 days; and
  • The building or part of a building used for “short stay arrangements” satisfies certain requirements under the Building Code of Australia (“Code”), such as the building must be wholly classified as a Class 2 building in Part A3.2 of Volume One of the Code.

Our property and disputes teams have extensive experience in owners corporation matters.