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Call to use code to evict rowdy short stayers

Canberra Furnished Accommodation director Laurie McDonald says there is a need for the implementation of the code of ...

Canberra Furnished Accommodation director Laurie McDonald says there is a need for the implementation of the code of conduct for short-term rentals. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

A code of conduct for holiday or short-term rentals that bans party houses, restricts noise after 10pm and forces tenants to consider neighbours should be adopted and promoted in the ACT, according to a leading accommodation agent.

The Australian Hotels Association has also raised concerns about residential apartments ''moonlighting'' as overnight accommodation and questioned whether they have the appropriate safety licences.

But accommodation providers say they are at a loss to understand why the AHA is on the attack, saying apartments are a legitimate option for people who do not want to stay in hotels or motels.

The developments follow concerns about short-term tenants at The ApARTments at NewActon engaging in anti-social behaviour including vomiting on to terraces below, swearing loudly, making noise into the early hours and ''riding'' a large peacock sculpture in the lobby. Owner-occupiers have said they thought they were buying into ''an expensive residential building, not a hotel''.

Roger Smith, chairman of the Owners Corporation, NewActon South, said this week owners at The ApARTments wanted the government to consider restricting rentals of less than a month. However, the office of Attorney-General Simon Corbell confirmed there was no provision under unit title laws preventing an owner from entering into short-term lettings.

Laurie McDonald has owned Canberra Furnished Accommodation for almost 10 years, owning and managing furnished properties that are available for short- or long-term leases to people such as those on work contracts and holidaymakers. Mrs McDonald said the right kind of management of tenants could nip any potential problems in the bud.

Her company has a no-party policy in place to the extent tenants have even asked whether they can hold a dinner party.

''It's just about your guests,'' she said. ''We just attract the right kind of people. When Summernats comes and if anyone makes a Summernats booking we just have a conversation with them about expectations. We tend to attract the baby boomers who go to the 'Nats but aren't trouble.

''I had a young girl ring once about booking a luxury apartment for New Year's Eve and she eventually said, 'It doesn't sound like the right sort of place for us, we want to have a party'. It's just about communication, really.''

Mrs McDonald said what had happened at The ApARTments was awful but said it echoed behaviour by both long- and short-term tenants throughout Canberra.

She did not support any law change to restrict the length of time owners could lease their properties.

''If they want to stamp out short-term tenants, that's fine, but it does penalise the owners because they're getting a higher return at the end of the day,'' she said. ''If it's managed well, it's not going to be an issue.''

Mrs McDonald said she would like there to be greater promotion in the ACT of the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct. Its provisions include bans on so-called ''party houses'' and restrictions on guests making noise offensive to neighbours between 10pm and 8am. Anyone engaging in anti-social behaviour risks eviction, loss of rent paid and loss of a bond.

Meanwhile, Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Brad Watts said the ACT government had to ensure all providers of short-term accommodation held a boarding house licence and that the accommodation complied with the Building Code of Australia.

Mr Watts said providing overnight accommodation carried serious fire and safety risks. "The AHA ACT has serious doubts whether many of these apartments - moonlighting as hotels - hold appropriate licences,'' he said. "This is a disaster waiting to happen. There could be hundreds of unlicensed, unregulated apartments currently being sold to unsuspecting tourists as pseudo hotels.''

Mrs McDonald said she could not understand why the AHA was ''always on the attack'' against apartment accommodation as it was being provided by at least one of its own members, a prestige hotel.


  • This initiative should be extended to include party houses that are owned.

    The house next door is continually partying with a band one day a week to top it off.

    The AFP after numerous visits have given up and suggested we speak to the appropriate department of the ACT Government. The ACT Government despite numerous complaints have not done anything about it and we are now left contemplating selling our home that our children grew up in after many years having lived there.

    I'm sure we're not alone with this sort of nonsense going on.

    The authorities simply play lip service to all of this when in fact they should be addressing the matter more directly.

    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 7:54AM
    • Move to NSW. I have neighbours who make lots of noise. I simply rang the NSW POLICE, They turned up and issued a Noise Abatement Notice which remains in force for 28 days. not a peep put of them since, If they do start up again i simply call POLICE again.

      Again i point out that the ACT Government simply has to cut and paste legislation from other states rather than adding more politicians.

      And you should demand the ACT gov't immediately give ACT Police similar powers to their NSW colleagues.

      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 10:41AM
  • Why make renting harder in Canberra ?

    Owners need to make it easier to rent (and get good returns) ,especially with the Canberra property market going to collapse later this year/early next when Abbot gets in and moves to get rid of/privatise 50,000 public servants

    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 8:55AM
    • You are 100% spot on. We are already starting to see a glut of rental properties flooding the market. Go for a drive and see the rows and rows of rent and sale signs popping up everywhere. Labor-greens have been cutting government jobs here by stealth for many months, and the soon to be elected liberal government will openly bring even harsher cuts.
      Personal debt levels in Australia are the highest in the developed world. The only people even talking about real estate are those with a huge vested interest i.e real esates and developers.
      Sadly for many the pain of the 90's Canberra recession has been forgotten in the rush to become a so called property investment 'guru'. Reality shows like the block have conned a generation with the get rich quick message. 80% of so called investment properties are owned by middle income 'investors.' The wealthy got out of property long ago before this massive property ponzi bubble peaked.
      We have seen nothing yet.

      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 10:36AM
    • Tell you what.

      You live beside bad tenants or bad neighbours for a few months, and then tell me that it is all OK.

      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 2:49PM
  • Something definitely needs to be done. A nearby property has been a rental property for about 26 years. Over that time there have been many tenants through the property. Some of the tenants have been absolutely shocking. Some have played their music so loud that I can hear it in my house (with all of the windows and doors shut) - they have no regard for their neighbours. The police refuse to attend because it is the responsibility of the environmental protection agency - too bad if it takes weeks and months to get it sorted. Other tenants in the property have had domestics using foul language for all to hear - they don't care. Agents are reluctant to evict tenants because it means a loss of rent for the landlord. Agents also refuse to provide contact details for the landlord to allow direct complaints from neighbours of tenants in rental properties - perhaps the agent doesn't want to look like they are not managing the property. There may also be landlords that just don't want to know - that's why they have hired an agent.

    Over it
    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 9:33AM
    • @over it..Property owners engage a property becuase they want to be at arms length of the situation & have the property manager carry out their wishes.
      It's understandable the property manager won't tell you who owns the house as they don't work for you.
      If you want to find out who owns it all you need is the block & section number or street address and $10 or so dollars and go to your Lands Department and do a title search.
      The other way is to start formal proceeding against the people after you have a years worth of diary & video evidence and independant witnessess to back up your allegations, often they will only stop when they get a summons to court.
      Then take this advice from prepared to move, neighbours come & go...but enemies can last a lifetime & you don't want them knowing where you live.

      Plan B
      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 9:58AM
    • Over it: This sounds like a poor agent. If the property is continually being let to drongos - then the agent's ability to source suitable tenants and manage them in a way that means they don't interrupt the peace of others in the area is sadly lacking. It can't be just you that's upset if its been 26 years of drama...? Perhaps a few of you should pay a visit to the managing director of the real estate agent - en masse - with a list of your concerns. If you have any lawyer-types living nearby - all the better. :)

      I had an apartment next door that was rented 4 times to morons. Out of control drug users leaving syringes on common property, partying students with music shaking the room at 2am, juvenile delinquents who broke into the cars - we had em all. Eventually we found the landlord and complained - turns out he knew nothing of our concerns. The agent was doing sweet FA.

      Deb DeGood
      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 10:39AM
  • More control. More rules. More government intervention. More restrictions.

    This town is already graveyard past 5.30pm. A lifeless, soulless, desert of passion.

    Force out the fun, restrict those who dare intrude on your quiet, slow, predictable existence.

    Yawwwwwnnnnn. Time for my 11am nap. Can someone stop the birds and wind please? It's annoying me.

    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 10:29AM
    • This definately is a common problem in Canberra.

      I have nothing against people having fun, what I am against is neighbours partying all night long while everyone else is asleep.

      We used to have neighbours like this, they would hold parties outside normal hours, during the weekdays etc. Only in the past year or so our real estate has finally found a well behaved group of neighbours, so everything is peaceful & quite again.

      I think real estates need to be more selective in the tennants they lease properties to. If the existing tennants are relatively quiet & keep to themselves, surely it only makes sense to get the same type of tennants?

      Canberra, Australia
      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 11:34AM

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