LUXURY Beechworth accommodation providers are feeling the pinch from short-term operators including Airbnb.
The owners of award-winning Finches of Beechworth, Margot Maller and Peter Brygel, have been trying to sell without success and fear potential buyers have been spooked by an increasing amount of rivals in the town which aren’t being subjected to the same level of compliance and regulation.
“All of us who have a profile are compliant because the council can see us, but those under the radar make sure they stay under the radar,” Ms Maller said.
“All we are asking for is a level playing field.
“(Buyers) have walked away because they’ve seen all these mum and dad operators out there, but none of them are paying the same fees and have to comply with the same regulations.”
Ms Maller estimates they’ve spent an additional $6000 on council licences, commercial rates, fire services levy and public liability insurance compared with their emerging rivals.
They have owned Finches for five years and resorted to marketing the property as a home due to the lack of interest as a business.
They estimate 40-plus properties in Beechworth are going under the radar.
“Smaller cottages, which are investment properties, are flying whereas our property is fairly substantial,” she said.
Finches and other similar accommodation providers will meet with Indigo Shire chief executive Trevor Ierino on Friday.
Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor said she had raised the issue of short-term accommodation, including Airbnb, with Rural Councils of Victoria, which was lobbying the state government to address the issue.
“Indigo Shire is conducting an audit and review of short-term accommodation in the shire and a report is being prepared for a council briefing later this month,” she said.
“Mr Ierino has been in contact with accommodation providers several times. The meeting is simply to check that accommodation providers concerns have been captured for the report.”
Their concerns were also raised with Victorian consumer affairs minister Heidi Victoria and member for Benambra Bill Tilley on Wednesday.
The Coalition members have vowed to fight for a better deal if elected in November.
“It’s not a matter of more regulation. It’s about more even regulation,” Ms Victoria said.
“Finches are incredibly beautiful, long established, award winning, do what they do extremely well, but others moving into the neighbourhood are changing the nature of what goes on here.”
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