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Butt Out of Byron Airbnb/Expedia(Stayz)

“Airbnb hosts in Australia earned a median income of $4,920 in 2015-2016” yet Airbnb is recommending that their landlords employ ‘co-hosts’ like Sheryl & Daniel – see photo - who, “in Byron, could earn $1,643/week” or $85,436/year…“Estimate based on 15% co-host fee deducted from each booking”. How the hell does that work?

Today it appears that Byron has 2,293 properties advertised as holiday lets through Airbnb/Stayz yet only 73 homes available for Residents/Tenants on In May 2014 Mayor Simon Richardson was blaming Airbnb for Byron’s rental woes, then last year he was planning what many call the troubling trendiness of poverty appropriation, ie putting tiny ‘pop-up housing’ on council-owed land to combat unaffordable housing.

In 2012/13 Byron Shire Council successfully prosecuted an Illegal Holiday Let in the Land & Environment Court. On 28 February of that year a majority of Councillors voted to defer any further prosecutions. Surely that is gross failure by Council on behalf of their Constituents and, under the terms of Section 126 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1975, probably even a breach of Councillors’ fiduciary obligations?

Byron Shire has the greatest number of Airbnb listings in regional NSW/Australia; consider, that’s just Airbnb – the new kid on the block. Comparing Byron’s Airbnbs to New York City’s (World No. 1 Airbnb town), in terms of population, Byron has five times the density of short-term listings. At a meeting last week, Byron Councillors voted unanimously to end their moratorium on fining Illegal Holiday Letting operators, subject to the State Government’s response to a Parliamentary Inquiry, due on 19 April. The NSW Department of Planning & Environment, in a letter dated 06 February 2017, cautioned Byron Council that the Hearing Committee has recommended that short-term holiday letting be enabled across the State as ‘exempt development’. Byron is now suggesting a policy that will still allow a 3-bedroom or less residence to be let short-term for up to 90 days per year as ‘exempt development’, without being subject to a Development Application – acceptable to Parliamentary Counsel. How would one ever monitor and enforce this proposed 90-day limit and why expose residents to three months at any time of the year to an activity that is judged “fundamentally incompatible” with residential living? Will there be an end to Byron Residents’ misery, or will the personal financial interests of those MPs short-term letting see Airbnb/Expedia(Stayz) win Parliament’s blessing for control of our NSW homes and communities?

Airbnb talks incessantly of individuals having the right to do whatever they want in their homes/properties. Yes, if that activity involves a residential occupation. What Airbnb never considers is the expectations and the rights of neighbouring Residents to the quiet enjoyment of their residential properties and residential communities.

Short-Term Letting Operators know that their dealings in Residential Housing are “Illegal”. Airbnb has landlords tick a box confirming that they, the landlords, are complying with relevant legislation = problem solved for Airbnb. Given that only three NSW Local Government Areas have passed legislation allowing STRs in Residential Zones, Airbnb & Co are knowingly facilitating an illegal activity, which is surely in itself illegal: aiding and abetting? Give these landlords a very brief ‘grace period’, ban state wide the advertising of residential properties for rental periods of less than three months, and then throw the full force of our NSW Legislation at all illegal operations.

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