Watergate OC decides against short-stay appeal
Docklands News
31 August 2016

The Watergate owners’ corporation (OC) has decided against appealing a Supreme Court decision that found it did not have the power to ban short-stay apartments.

In July, Supreme Court Justice Peter Riordan ruled the OC did not have the power to make rules banning owners from leasing apartments short-term, supporting an earlier VCAT decision that the OC had appealed.

The appeal period following the Supreme Court decision has now ended without the OC lodging an appeal – a move signalling the conclusion to the long-running legal battle against short-stay apartments in the Watergate building.

“Watergate’s role in the push to regulate serviced apartments and commercial short-stay operators in apartment buildings is over,” a Watergate OC spokesperson said.

“It’s now time for owners’ corporations throughout Victoria to unite and to force the government to enact some meaningful legislation that will improve the amenity, security and privacy for owners and residents in apartment buildings and to improve the value of their assets.”

“Presently, there is no political will amongst the Labor caucus to do anything meaningful for residents and owners in apartment buildings in this area. That must change and the ‘We Live Here’ movement will do all it can to help facilitate this change,” the spokesperson said.

Last month the government’s bill on short-stays was reintroduced to parliament for a second reading.

Politicians were generally supportive of the bill, which gives VCAT new powers to:

Award compensation of up to $2,000 to neighbours and ban short-stay apartments repeatedly used for unruly parties;

Impose penalties of up to $1,100 on short-stay occupants for breaches;

Make the short-stay accommodation provider jointly responsible for such compensation; and

Make orders prohibiting the use of short-stay accommodation for a certain period if occupants have on three separate occasions within 24 months breached conduct rules.

However, shadow minister for consumer affairs Russell Northe and Greens member for Melbourne Ellen Sandell were both critical of the bill.

Ms Sandell said the issues around short-stay accommodation went beyond “party houses”.

Ms Sandell said while parties do happen and damage to common property is a problem, the main issue brought to her attention by her constituents was “reduced amenity and quality of life that comes from their buildings being turned from residential communities into essentially de facto hotels”.

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