A SHORT-TERM rental property in North Melbourne has become a â€śnightmareâ€ť for neighbours and the owner who today will be counting the cost of an out-of-control house party that saw the premises â€” and attending police vehicles â€” trashed.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Shands Lane is advertised on a number of websites including Booking.com and Airbnb for $158-a-night and comfortably hosts two couples or four singles.
Pictures show domestic bliss â€” a bright, open lounge, comfortable bedrooms, clean bathrooms and a fully-functioning kitchen.
Today, it looks like a bomb hit it. The television has been stolen and so has the microwave. Holes have been punched and kicked in walls and furniture has been up-ended.
More than 50 people packed into the small property 2.5kms from the CBD for the second time in a fortnight. What started as a party ended up in wild scenes when police responded to a noise complaint.
A group of African youths who were partying there jumped on police cars, kicking in windscreens and knocking mirrors off. They threw rubbish bins and firewood over the fence and forced police to shelter inside a garage.
Resident Meg Moorhouse told reporters the group was â€śaggressiveâ€ť and residents were afraid. She said nobody wants to live next door to a property that hosts wild parties.
â€śItâ€™s a residentâ€™s nightmare to have short-term property starting up a business in your street,â€ť she said.
Senior Sergeant Adam Tanner said the behaviour was â€śoutrageousâ€ť and unacceptable. He said police are closing in on the group of young men who jumped on cars and pelted objects at them.
â€śThereâ€™s been no arrests to date but Iâ€™m confident,â€ť Sen-Sgt Tanner said. â€śOur avenues of enquiry are coming along well.â€ť
On Sunday, he said the behaviour was â€śnot something that we tolerateâ€ť. Police are investigating whether a stolen credit card was used to secure the accommodation.
The property is managed by Melbourne-based company Roomerang on behalf of an owner who lives overseas. Roomerang markets itself as â€śan end-to-end short stays teamâ€ť helping owners â€śachieve higher rental cashflowâ€ť.
A spokesman for the company told news.com.au they received the first noise complaint around midnight. Things escalated after that.
â€śAt 12am we got the first call and contacted the guests, telling them to keep the noise down and warning they could be evicted. At 1am we got another noise complaint and thatâ€™s when we called police.â€ť
The spokesman, who did not wish to be named, told news.com.au â€śsomething triggeredâ€ť the scuffle with police and that the violence didnâ€™t start until partygoers were lining up to leave.
He said Roomerang â€śdidnâ€™t think the group was anything to be concerned aboutâ€ť but admitted those who rented the property were â€śunsavoury charactersâ€ť.
The damage, according to Roomerang, is almost completely fixed as of Monday afternoon. It cost â€śa few thousand dollarsâ€ť and will paid for out of insurance covering malicious damage.
â€śIt couldâ€™ve been much worse,â€ť the spokesman said. â€śThe reason things like this get bad is because property managers donâ€™t act quickly. We acted quickly.â€ť
The North Melbourne home is advertised for rent on a number of websites where the owners declare â€śstrict house rulesâ€ť include â€śno smoking, no parties, no pets, maximum number of guests is shown on the listing, please do not have more guests without notifying usâ€ť.
Itâ€™s not the first time a short-term rental property in Melbourne has been trashed. In December last year, police were forced to use pepper spray after attending an out-of-control party in Werribee, 32kms southwest of the CBD.
Rooms were trashed, neighbours terrorised and heavily-armed police were pelted with rocks after they rushed to what witnesses described as a â€śwar zoneâ€ť.
Pictures from the scene showed walls covered in pepper spray residue, blood spatter and graffiti. Just like on Saturday night in North Melbourne, holes were kicked in plaster walls and cars outside were trashed.
Neighbours said as many as 40 youths of African appearance attended and, once the party was broken up by riot police, the party continued in the street.
â€śAs soon as they started throwing rocks at the police they thought they could do anything and it started getting worse,â€ť neighbour Chantelle said, adding there had been troubles a night earlier.
â€śThey treat it as a game.â€ť
Locks on the gate at the North Melbourne property were being replaced on Sunday. The property managers said the home was being rented out for three months on Monday.
â€śWeâ€™re ensuring this wonâ€™t happen at this property again,â€ť a spokesman told news.com.au.
Roomerang said since launching two years ago, there have only been two major incidents.
â€śItâ€™s very rare.â€ť