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Report and Recommendations to State Government Rejected

The Community Focus Group, Neighbours Not Strangers, rejects the Report(1) tabled by the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning that was handed down on 19/10/16. The NSW Government’s response is due on 19/04/17, though some reports say it could be as early as February 2017.(2)

The Short-Term Rental (STRs) of Residential Housing sees countless NSW Tenants evicted, increases in rents and strata levies, and the capital value of neighbouring properties plummet.

Data from San Francisco estimates that for every home removed for STR, the City loses USD250,000-USD300,000 every year, or an estimated USD3 billion annually.

Neighbours Not Strangers opposes the recommendation that STRs be deemed ‘exempt development’ and ask State Legislators to abandon all proposals made in this Report. Current Planning and Zoning Legislation should be upheld, Local Councils’ powers of investigation increased, together with penalties for all breaches of Legislation - currently there is next to no financial disincentive for those acting unlawfully.

You are urged to attend our inaugural ‘Day of Action’ at Sydney Town Hall from 1:30pm on 22/1/17. This Action is supported by Resident Groups around the world, including ShareBetter SF (San Francisco Tenants Union), Homes Not Hotels (Vancouver), Keep Neighbourhoods First (Los Angeles), Inside Airbnb (New York), Holiday Flats Edinburgh’s Ruin (Edinburgh), to name but a few.

Short term letting is currently illegal in NSW without a Development Approval, save for 11 local government areas which have rushed to classify it as ‘exempt development’ in their Local Environment Plans (LEP).(3)

It recommendation that short-term rentals be classified as ‘exempt development’ throughout the State is now put forward, whether or not the landlord/host is present on the premises; this extends to properties acquired for the sole purpose of short-term rentals (including many within strata schemes).(4)

Neighbours Not Strangers contends that the Report to Parliament is seriously flawed, unsound and not in the best interest of NSW residents, either socially or economically. How could the Committee find simultaneously that “there is generally a low level of complaints concerning short-term letting” and concurrently, ”the complaints heard from stakeholders about the impacts of short term letting on the quiet enjoyment of their properties are real and serious”? (5) There is ample evidence of the devastating impact of illegal STRs on residential buildings throughout NSW. The impact of unrestricted, ‘legal’ STRs will be catastrophic.

In December 2016, Sydney alone had 18,522 Airbnb landlords, 2,228 of which had multiple listings (12%) renting 23,476 properties.(6) This represents a 75.5% increase over the proceeding six months. It is clear that not only are landlords flouting existing Local Government Zoning and Planning law, they are actively and aggressively renting residential properties for business purposes.

Recent data also indicates that the rise of short-term letting in NSW directly correlates with the crisis in housing affordability in Airbnb hotspots.(7) If the NSW Government makes short-term letting either ‘exempt development’ in residential areas, as proposed, we will see fewer dwellings available for residential tenancies; increases in rents will inevitably occur.

The greatest impacts, both in terms of amenity and costs, will be borne by Residents in strata communities, where levies will rise by as much as 50% and property values can plummet by 30- 40%. A change in legislation will afford no protection to an Owner or Tenant whose neighbours’ apartments are rented short-term, whether or not the owners or occupants are present. Who is going to monitor and police this activity? Why should it fall to the strata community – and often an individual Resident - to bear the costs of such an anti-social policy with the Government having stripped away Owners’ powers?

The recommendations to Parliament, as they currently stand, will overturn NSW Land and Environment Court case law which states that “there is an fundamental incompatibility between a mix of residential and serviced apartments that share the same floor and access points” in a strata community.(8) Special reference is also made to NSW Land and Environment case law, Dobrohotoff v Bennic.(9)

Neighbours Not Strangers ask that you to take time to consider the far reaching impacts of short-term rentals of residential dwellings and apartments on our neighbourhoods and communities.

If you would rather have neighbours not strangers and affordable housing for the next generation, then support us in our ‘Day of Action’ on 22 January 2017 at Town Hall Sydney at 1:30pm and sign and share our petition at: Legislators must hear:

Homes not Hotels, Neighbours not Strangers.

1 %20Adequacy%20of%20the%20Regulation%20of%20Short-Term%20Holiday%20Letting%20in%20New%20South%20Wales.pdf 2 Gosford (up to 4 bedrooms), Wyong (up to 4 bedrooms), Byron (up to 3 bedrooms, maximum 6 adults), Bega (up to 52 days), Eurobadalla (up to 45 consecutive days), Kiama (up to 60 consecutive days), Palerang (up to 45 consecutive days), Shoalhaven (up to 45 consecutive days), Wingecarribee (up to 45 consecutive days), Port Stephens (up to 60 consecutive days), Pittwater (up to 3 months). 4 Ibid P;11

5 Ibid P:11 6 7 8,

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