Apartment owners who rent out their properties on Airbnb might have to pay higher owners corporation fees to cover wear and tear on common areas under proposed new laws.

The higher fees are mooted as a change to owners corporation laws in a draft bill in Victoria – yet to be made public – reviewed by organisations including Strata Community Australia (Victoria).

It’s one of three proposals which have been put forward relating to strata properties being used for short-stay lets.

SCA (Victoria) general manager Rob Beck said as part of the reforms, it is also proposed:

  • Owners corporations would be able to charge a levy to cover damage done to common property caused by short-term renters (through a fire levy or similar), and,
  • That it would be easier to escalate problems from short-stay renters, with the threshold for an agreement of the owners corporation to go to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or the Victorian Magistrates’ Court to be reduced from 75 per cent of relevant members to 50 per cent.

Mr Beck said the proposals were part of a range of “sweeping changes” that SCA had been pushing for to modernise the current legislation, which is now 12 years old.

SCA Victoria had previously called for tougher laws covering short-stay lets in strata buildings, as well as action by a newly elected government to make changes to owners corporation laws within its first 100 days.

The calls came ahead of separate legislation coming into effect from February 2019 that will give VCAT the power to ban problem tenants and rental owners and award costs for “loss of amenity” to other people living in a building (up to $2000).

But the strata body is concerned the new laws do not go far enough.

“We’ve already gone through three years of issues papers and options papers,” Mr Beck said. “So the sooner the better.”

While the current review had taken three years, Mr Beck said organisations including SCA Victoria had actually been through the process for change over six years, with a previous review of the law by the former Coalition government not going ahead after a change in government in 2014.

SCA Victoria welcomed other proposed changes such as sustainability measures, and new requirements to gain approval to change the facades of individual units, townhouses or apartments covered by a strata.

“The reforms will be a really good for the 1.6 million people in Victoria living in these buildings,” Mr Beck said.

With many more apartments, units and townhouses planned for construction in the next three decades – more than one million by 2051 – it was vital reforms were made law in 2019, he said.

A spokesperson for Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz said the government had publicly committed to releasing an “exposure draft” of the changes to the bill by June 30 next year, but wouldn’t give an exact date.

“We will release the draft legislation shortly – these reforms will modernise the Act, which hasn’t been changed in more than a decade,” the spokesperson said.

“Our changes will give greater certainty to the 1.6 million Victorians who own or live in residential apartments.”