Vic Greens flex muscle for curbs on Airbnb and rents

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The Victorian Greens have put demands for curbs on short-term holiday lets like Airbnb at the heart of their push for reform of the state’s housing policy.

And they are calling for more taxes on empty properties, rent controls, more affordable housing and a U-turn on the planned demolition of public housing in exchange for their critical support in the Victorian parliament for the state housing program .

The Greens say the ruling Labor party must commit to strong reforms to ease the state’s housing crisis in order to guarantee passage of any part of their housing package — including the state taxation bill currently before Parliament.

Green hold the balance of power in the Upper House in Victoria and unless the LNP sides with the government – an unlikely outcome – they can delay or scupper legislation announced by former Premier Daniel Andrews in his last week in the job.

In a letter to the Treasurer, the Greens say that in order to secure their support for any part of their housing plan, including the upcoming tax bill and the upcoming short-stay levy, Labor must commit to real change to address the housing crisis, including:

  • Rent controls to protect renters from out-of-control rent rises via a two-year rent freeze, followed by a permanent cap on rent increases.
  • Short-stay holiday letting (airbnb) regulation with a 90-day cap, owners corporation powers to restrict holiday lets in apartment buildings and a mandatory public register.
  • Inclusionary zoning to require a minimum of 30% of public and affordable housing in developments of 15 or more homes on private land across the state.
  • Kill plans to privatise public housing land and demolish public housing. There must be a government commitment to maintain existing housing and build 100,000 new public homes within the decade.
  • A stronger vacant land tax that brings more homes into the housing market with an ‘opt-out’ system and a fairer rate of 3% CIV. 

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said Labor had missed a critical opportunity to support thousands of renters and people waiting for public and genuinely affordable housing.

“Under Labor’s current housing plan, the housing crisis will get worse,” she said.

“Renters will continue to face unlimited rent rises, people in regional Victoria will be forced to sleep in tents and caravans, and our public housing waiting list will grow.

“The Greens will not accept measures that won’t work and will in fact make the housing crisis worse. 

“We are inviting Labor to partner with us to solve the state’s housing crisis. If Labor wants to pass their housing bills, they need to sit down with the Greens and support real solutions to fix the housing crisis.

“The question is: will Labor listen to experts and negotiate with the Greens to help fix the housing crisis, or will Labor continue to work only with property developers?”

Referring to the vacant land tax, Victorian Greens treasury spokesperson, Sam Hibbins MP, said: “Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant yet this ineffective tax will cover just a handful of those, and will have no negligible impact on the supply of existing housing for renters or owner occupiers.

“Victorians in need can’t afford for the housing crisis to get worse. Taking urgent, necessary action will make thousands more homes available to renters or people wanting to buy their first home.”

A change to Victoria’s vacancy tax is one of the first pieces of Labor’s housing plan to come before Parliament this week, with other legislation to come next year. 

The Greens say they are prepared to enter good-faith negotiations with Labor before the proposed vacancy tax hits the Upper House in two weeks’ time.

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      The Victorian Greens have put demands for curbs on short-term holiday lets like Airbnb at the heart of their push for reform of the state’s housing po
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