While there’s no code of conduct for short-term rental accommodation in the ACT, one strata company is taking steps to combat the headaches caused by short-stay party-goers in apartment complexes.
Civium ACT strata operations manager Mark Zezulka says unlike NSW, legislation doesn’t restrict the use of apartments and townhouses for short-term accommodation in Canberra. But property managers and body corporates can develop their own guidelines to ensure residents enjoy their homes without unreasonable disturbance.
Mr Zezulka has been working with residents and owners’ corporations across Canberra to create policies for their complexes.
With visitor numbers on the rise after lockdowns, he says guests and neighbours at some apartment buildings have been forced to put up with loud and inconsiderate party-goers.
Until the ACT Government takes the lead, it’s up to owners to work together and set their own rules.
“Apartment owners can list their properties with online booking platforms and there are currently no regulations around short-term accommodation,” he says.
“When there are unruly guests, there’s often no way of contacting the owner or the booking agent at the time of the incident.
“Neighbours have to either put up with the bad behaviour or call the police.”
Mr Zezulka says strata and property managers can work with residents and body corporates to put guidelines in place for apartment or unit owners looking to rent their properties on a short-term basis.
“They can draw up a policy requiring owners to provide contact details for the host so they can immediately deal with emergencies, property damage and neighbourhood complaints – including loud or violent behaviour,” he says.
“Adding rules such as a minimum two-night stay can also reduce the risk of wild parties, as they mainly occur with overnight stays.”
Mr Zezulka says building policies should be registered with the ACT Government and implemented as soon as possible so everyone knows the rules and what to expect.
“The biggest piece of advice I have for concerned residents is to start the conversation sooner rather than later.
“Talk to your strata manager, brainstorm with your committee and reach out to the owners and hosts to get their feedback too.
“Just keep it simple, so everyone is on the same page.”
It’s not uncommon for reckless guests to cause damage to the property and communal areas such as hallways, lifts, pools or barbecues.
“We’ve had cases of people urinating in elevators, smashing lights and holes in walls, and vomiting in the hallways,” Mr Zezulka says.
“It can get pretty bad at times. Guests can become aggressive if approached, and can cause a lot of damage for the unit owner and the body corporate.
“Neighbours should not have to put up with this type of behaviour.”
He says the malicious incidents are becoming more frequent, prompting calls for action.
“Pre-COVID, every week we had some sort of complaint about parties in short-stay rentals.
“Because the property managers or neighbours can’t get in touch with the host, the body corporate is often left to clean up the mess or foot the repair bills long after the guests have left the building.”
Mr Zezulka says neighbours dealing with ongoing parties in their complex should get in touch with their body corporate or strata manager to draw up short-stay guidelines as soon as possible.
Because of the stigma often associated with online booking platforms, he says some homeowners are also reluctant to inform neighbours about their plans to start short-stay rentals.
Body corporates can also consider upgrading their building security by installing cameras and replacing outdated lockboxes with keyless entry systems. Sound-measuring devices can also be fitted.
Mr Zezulka says short-stay accommodation is a great choice for visitors seeking a “home away from home” experience.
“Canberra’s got so many attractions and things for people to do, and short-stay accommodation is becoming more popular.
“It’s a great source of extra income for property owners and offers more flexibility than permanent rentals. It’s also great for the economy.”
The expert team at Civium ACT manages properties from Belconnen to Banks as well as Queanbeyan and regional NSW.