May 25th, 2022Weddings, parties… Just less noise please
RESIDENTS in the small township of Lyonville are fed up with the unruly behaviour of guests staying in nearby accommodation sites. Unregulated all night loud music, trespassing and a blatant disregard for locals and their property are among the numerous complaints being made.
Nervous about using their names, the residents say that despite requests to speak with the owners of the properties and calling on help from Hepburn Shire Council their attempts have fallen on deaf ears.
“We chose here because it is zoned semi-rural and a magnificent part of the world to live. Many of us have hobby farms, animals and originally moved here because of the relaxed lifestyle,” said one resident who lives next door to an accommodation site.
“We are not upset that we have a growing number of accommodation sites, but the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any decency or respect when it comes to caring about the impact on neighbours is distressing,” she said.
“On many occasions there are more than 100 people on the properties, music plays all night, bright lights from some of the sites literally light up the sky. It’s simply appalling that we have to put up with this – in our own homes. And we have tried to seek help from Council given we believe they have powers to speak to the owners but again our attempts have failed.”
A Hepburn Shire Council spokesperson said while council understood the transient nature of short-term accommodation sites, it did not have a policy on bed and breakfasts or short-term accommodation sites.
“We encourage residents to contact Victoria Police if they have concerns in relation to noise or inappropriate behaviour. Due to privacy, we are unable to provide comments specific to particular properties.”
Only recently, two visitors from an accommodation site jumped a fence to enter a property without permission, removed a dinghy from a shed and went rowing on a private dam. On the same day in a separate incident, two visitors also from a nearby accommodation site climbed through a fence and entered a neighbour’s shed.
One resident said guests regularly attempted to feed farm animals chocolate and other food over the fence.
Coliban Ward Cr Brian Hood, pictured in the township, said he was aware of the complaints and has raised the issue with council officers on numerous occasions.
“While we have a large proliferation of visitors I think it only makes sense that council has a policy regarding short-term accommodation. I have raised the Lyonville issues with officers each time residents have contacted me. At the end of the day councillors are here to represent residents and protect their interests,” he said.
Cr Hood said council needed to be alerted to any issues regarding unruly behaviour and noise issues so officers can keep a record.
“While noise issues are a matter for the police, I appreciate that police attendance may not always be immediate. I believe council has it within its powers to create local laws around accommodation sites.”
One of the residents said he hoped council could follow the actions of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council which adopted a Short Stay Rental Accommodation Local Law two years ago, providing clear guidelines on the required standards for the operation of this type of accommodation. The local law places the responsibility for occupant behaviour on the owner of the property.
Yarra Ranges Council has also introduced a short-term accommodation provision under its Local Laws which is ‘aimed to protect our neighbours from anti-social behaviours and amenity caused by short-term properties.’
Lyonville residents are hoping Hepburn Shire Council follows suit.
Bacchus Marsh police confirmed they had received calls on numerous occasions regarding noise complaints in Lyonville. They said Daylesford Police Station is staffed for 16 hours a day so when calls go to Bacchus Marsh if police and cars are available they will attend, but jobs are prioritised.
Changes to the Owners Corporations Act 2006 were introduced in February 2019 in Victoria to help prevent short-term accommodation sites being used to host unruly parties.
The reforms allow owners, corporations and residents to take action against owners and guests who are now jointly and individually liable for any compensation, fines and awards for damage to common property.
Fines of up to $11,000 may be imposed by VCAT for a range of breaches including unreasonable noise, security hazards and damaging common property.
Words: Narelle Groenhout | Image: Kyle Barnes