Roundup: Strata chair blocks Airbnb by-law vote


Can anyone give us a definitive answer on whether or not it’s OK to pass by-laws banning Airbnb?

We ask because this week we received an email from a Flatchatter who has been trying to get one up at his building but every time he puts that motion on the agenda, his chairman – allegedly on advice from the Owners Corp lawyer – says that such a by-law would be illegal and doesn’t even allow a vote on it.

Now we know that if the state government ever gets around to concocting its “code of conduct” for short-term holiday lets (STHL) then strata law will be amended to clearly and definitively allow owners corps to pass such by-laws affecting units that aren’t the host’s principle place of residence.

But what about right now?

You may recall that last year Fair Trading was telling all and sundry that anti-STHL by-laws were invalid.  Shortly thereafter, we and a number of strata lawyers were telling Fair Trading to get back in their box – they don’t get to decide what’s legal and what isn’t.

If you don’t believe us, just ask Fair Trading to rule on a dispute about anything else in your apartment block and they’ll tell you to take it to the Tribunal (NCAT).

Who does get to rule on the law are bodies like the West Australian Appeals Court and the Privy Council in London, who both agree that our laws do allow owners corporations to create by-laws banning STHLs in residential buildings.

In fact, if you look at the current Fair Trading website, they’ve changed their tune a bit.  Referring to the incoming laws, it says: “Strata scheme management laws will be amended to clarify that by-laws can prohibit short-term holiday letting …”

Note the word “clarify” – not change, alter, update or revise. Clarify. In other words – there has been confusion, not the definitive “no way” they used to issue.

For what it’s worth, here’s our view of the current situation.  You can propose a by-law which says that, in view of the fact that your block is zoned residential only, STHLs of less than three months will not be allowed in units that are not the host’s principle place of residence.

That’s all you can say because that way you are not interfering with the owner’s right to do as they please with their unit as that right doesn’t exist in the first place.

But if you try to compromise, giving them a few weeks leeway, for instance, that you are interfering and that would potentially be a breach of the Act.

Meanwhile our Flatchatter’s owners corp’s strata lawyer needs to have a good look at themselves. Is keeping their employer sweet more important that sticking to the law?  Only they can answer that.

And we’d love to hear from an owners corp who’ve had their STHL laws challenged but upheld at NCAT.

Back in residential Strataland, there seems to be a gender issue where women’s property is being damaged but the male committee members don’t want to spend the money on security cameras.  Can they just go ahead and install their own?  That’s HERE.

A tenant not only constantly parks in visitor parking but allows his 14-year-old son to drive on common property.  What are the insurance implications?  And what can be done?  That’s HERE.

In the “old questions that refuse to die” department someone has revived the poll about what you dislike most about your neighbours.  Some interesting responses HERE.

I’m planning a refit of my kitchen – but does it come under minor renovations (that don’t require by-laws) or major ones?  That’s HERE.

Everybody’s coming back from holidays so we expect even more questions and answers in the Forum.  Don’t miss out.


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