The Party's Over

Landlords suffer the 'hangover' following wild parties.Hungover Man

From short-term rentals being let as party pads to a new wave of ‘entrepreneurs’ using vacant properties for unauthorised open house parties – landlords can face huge cost hangovers for damage. 
 
In Victoria, the government is looking to introduce legislation that will allow authorities to stop landlords from letting apartments short-term for use as party pads. The laws would also allow owners’ corporations to seek damages from owners who allow their properties to be used this way and for guests to be fined for bad behaviour. Similar laws were introduced in Queensland in 2014.
 
While the Victorian laws are based on landlords doing the wrong thing, over in Western Australia there has been a spate of out-of-control parties being held in vacant rentals by opportunistic ‘party planners’.
 
Targeting vacant properties, the culprits advertise the open house parties on social media and charge party-goers for attending. The organisers usually bring in a sound system and strobe lighting (and often a DJ) and hundreds of people attend. The parties quickly turn ugly and often the riot police are called in. 
 
One duo has recently been charged with a string of offences relating to parties, where between 500 and 1000 people have registered to attend, leaving trashed homes in their wake. The pair has been charged with trespass, organising gatherings that became out-of-control, fraudulent appropriation of power, aggravated burglary, property damage and assaulting police officers.  
 
In another incident, the wild party on-site turned into a financial nightmare for the owner – racking up a damage bill of more than $160,000. The owner had only just renovated the property and had listed it online, providing the date from which it would be available for lease. The weekend before its advertised available date, it was targeted. 
 
The organisers set up the party via social media, broke in to the property and hundreds turned up on the night. Neighbours called the elderly owner who rushed over to shut down the gathering. The owner confronted the revellers who had trashed his property and they retaliated by setting the home alight. Fire fighters were unable to save the property. It is not known if the owner had insurance.  
 
These incidents serve as a warning to landlords to be careful when it comes to online listings and the details you reveal – with criminals using these online advertisements to pinpoint vacant properties.
 
Owners should also ensure their landlord insurance is up-to-date and that they understand their cover when it comes to vacant property. RentCover policyholders or their agents can contact us if they have any queries about their cover.
 
 
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