Last Sunday, marked three years since Residents of Sydney’s Millers Point heard word via television reports that they were to be removed from their Social Housing homes and their community disbanded. In a show of solidarity, the handful of Local Residents who remain were joined at a rally last week by Members of the Maritime Union of Australia, City of Sydney Councillor Philip Thalis, Labor Shadow Housing Minister Tania Mihailuk, Greens State Upper House MP David Shoebridge, Deputy Federal Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, plus Silvana Nero and Fred Nile. Neighbours Not Strangers was also present at the rally.
Look over the shoulders of those photographed to see an 1840’s four storey terrace with ironwork and veranda plus views to the Harbour Bridge from the rear bedroom. The research group Airdna has this property listed as No. 1 of ‘Best 100 Airbnb Rentals in Sydney’. This property’s landlord, Mary, has 223 Reviews and excellent ratings. Mary’s listing is for a ‘Private Room’, however she has multiple listings for rooms in the one property – a well-known tactic for those wanting to avoid detection for renting a whole property. This also means that clients will have no idea who else will be present in the home during their stay.
In July 2016 the SMH’s Jennifer Duke reported: “The government housing sell-off in Millers Point has had the unintended consequence of turning the historical suburb into a growing Airbnb hotspot where asking rents can be as high as $4,500 a week.”
Save Millers Point representative Barney Gardner advises that there are only 31 of the original (approximately) 600 Social Housing residents remaining. Type Millers Point into Airbnb’s ‘search’ field to find more than 300 current listings in the area.
Council employees will undertake inspections on licensed accommodation providers including Bed & Breakfast operators on a routine basis. Where is the City of Sydney when it comes to enforcing Planning/Zoning legislation and protecting Residents’ rights to safe, secure, affordable housing? How hard is it to identify listings on Expedia/Stayz and Airbnb’s websites? Plus, provisions provided within the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 surely provide Councils with the tools needed to take action against the “Illegal Use” of Residential Housing.
It’s time for NSW Legislators and Unions to step forward and speak out on this issue. Sydney is now ranked No. 4 in terms of the number of Airbnb listings and “Australia is Airbnb’s most penetrated market”.
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones Neighbours not Strangers