Short-term letting of residential lots in strata schemes, using sites like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, found to be valid by Victoria Supreme Court

Last week the Victorian Supreme Court handed down its decision on an appeal brought by the Owners Corporation for the Watergate Apartments, located at Docklands in Melbourne.

The decision involved the validity of a by-law, which sought to restrict the types of leases lot owners could enter into, namely to those leases that exceeded 30 days in length.

His Honour Justice Riordan found that lot owners did not have the power to make a rule prohibiting short-term letting of apartments because:

  • The role of a body corporate was to manage and administer the common property;
  • The legislation did not disclose an intention for an owner’s corporation to have the power to interfere with a lot owner’s proprietary rights; and
  • A parliamentary intention to provide owner’s corporations with the power to inhibit the conduct of lot owners in their own lots, would need to be expressed in clear and unambiguous language.

Here in Queensland the situation is a little bit clearer, because section 180(3) of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act actually prevents a by-law from restricting the lawful use of a residential lot.

For those interested in reading the whole decision, it can be found here:

Owners Corporations PS 501391P v Balcombe [2016] VSC 384 (22 July 2016)