If you’ve been out in Brisbane’s inner-city when there’s a major event happening, you’ve likely witnessed the scenes. When there’s a home game for a football team or a sizable music festival, our apartment buildings top up with sometimes rowdy overnighters. The short-stay accommodation fills to the brim with groups sharing 1 and 2 bed apartments, with some taking their parties home to the balcony, or the pool and other common areas.
To live in these buildings as an owner or permanent tenant can come with its challenges. Late night noise, litter and damage is unfortunately not rare and we know some residents who mark their calendar and plan nights away themselves for these occasions. And while the blending of long and short stay tenancies in Brisbane’s inner-city apartment buildings isn’t a new trend, the rapid growth of AirBNB and similar services are making this easier. So it’s no surprise some owners are turning to their body corp for a solution.
And they’re not getting the answer they want, nor possibly the one they deserve. We’ve written many times on the limitations of a body corp and it seems clear they have little power when it comes to overnight guests. The behaviour of troublesome tenants can be curbed with by-laws that apply to all residents – pool hours and use of common property for example. But a body corp can’t simply ban holiday stays or AirBNB from the building.
Section 180 of the Act limits the powers of a body corp in several ways, including: “If a lot may lawfully be used for residential purposes, the by-laws can not restrict the type of residential use.” You also can’t discriminate between users of common property, limiting access to certain areas for overnighters for example. In the same way a house owner can’t stop their next door neighbour hosting a party, apartment residents can usually do no more than call the police with a late night noise complaint.
To be clear this isn’t an issue in many apartment buildings, and is really only focused on the larger towers in Brisbane’s inner city. Not sure if short-stay is happening in your building? Try googling your building name – you might be surprised!
So what do you think? Should a lot owner be allowed to rent their property how they like and to whoever they choose? Or should a body corp be allowed to choose to house “permanents” only? If all owners bought in knowing those rules shouldn’t that be enforceable? Queensland’s body corp laws are now 20 years old and a lot’s changed in that time. There’s been some tweaking of laws and a full review has been underway since the last state government were in power. Some day soon we may see change, so what should new laws look like?