In the Game of Mates for the control of our homes, Expedia/Stayz have deployed another former Liberal, Minister for Tourism and International Education Richard Colbeck. Clutching firmly a ReachTEL survey commissioned and paid for of course by Stayz, Colbeck is claiming “grassroots” status, while acknowledging 40,000 homes and omitting the fact that Expedia Inc is Washington-based and has assets of some US$15.8 billion. The Australian picked up the story (23 and 31 August), and so too the Herald and Illawarra Mercury. Usual arguments: Strata v Illawara/Hunter Region, Regions should be exempt... Will Expedia/Stayz, Airbnb and others disclose their total campaign spend?
Meanwhile, down Bomaderry-way a family with seven children, a couple with a newborn baby, and two elderly people are among those who could be left homeless when the Bounty Motel closes. Nikky Sloan from the Illawarra Forum says the closure of the Bounty is “symptomatic of a bigger problem”.
A bit like aluminium cladding on buildings, legislators have always been aware of Federal dictates on Construction and Use: the Building Codes of Australia/National Construction Code. Council Planning Staff always happily implement an enforcement framework when law-abiding residents apply to convert a Class 1(a) building into a Class 1(b) or Class 3 eg, a Bed & Breakfast operation. Justices of the NSW Land and Environment Court acknowledge and make special note too that any such ‘Change of Use’ requires “extensive building upgrades for fire safety and for access for persons with a disability”. Council Staff and State Legislators have watched as the number of those operating tourist/visitor short-stays in unmodified and unregulated residential dwellings and flats has exploded. Plus we now have 11 NSW Councils that have specifically altered their Local Environmental Plans to facilitate such ‘Change of Use’ thereby seemingly deliberately bypassing Federal legislation.
Earlier this week we produced a snapshot of figures comparing Airbnb/Stayz listings with Domain advertisements of homes available for rent. Details of the sites from which numbers were sourced were provided. An article in yesterday’s SMH warned of “warfare” between those who don’t see eye-to-eye on short-term rentals. It’s started, with several overnight criticising our efforts, at the same time failing to ‘out’ themselves as major players in the short-term rental game. We will continue to relay information found via search engines etc, in the belief that all sides of this critical issue must be presented. These are our homes and our communities and we will not let matters of safety be ignored.
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits Neighbours not Strangers