ACT News


Call to use code to evict rowdy short stayers

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.


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