IS IT LEGAL OR ILLEGAL…IS IT A HOTEL OR A HOME?
The Holiday Rental Industry Association (HIRA) and Holiday Letting Organisation Byron have written to the NSW Parliament in response to the ‘Options Paper’ on short-term rentals:
“It is evident that the activity of providing short-term residential accommodation has always been, and is generally, a legal activity in dwellings that have residential development consent…”
Strange then that we have case law aplenty judging otherwise and that Trevor Atherton of HRIA testified to the Victorian Parliament under oath a propos short-term rentals: “...New South Wales, where it is illegal”. Also according to Atherton, still under oath, one can’t come along after land has been zoned (residential) and change the terms of that land use “without paying compensation”. Talk of compensation to those living in NSW residential property and suburbs penetrated by short-term rentals has somehow evaporated.
HIRA claims to have all answers: “a relatively simply regulatory system”. HIRA too wants Parliament to alter our State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) to make short-term rentals “complying” or “exempt development” – tourists/visitors being granted a ‘License to Occupy’ our homes. The Holiday Rental Industry will self-regulate by way of their Code of Conduct, plus there will be mandatory registration of all short-term rentals.
HIRA does not provide any data demonstrating that self-regulation and mandatory registration works. In fact, there isn’t any - data or proof - anywhere in the world. Quite the reverse: where this approach has been attempted it has failed. NB: HIRA says Airbnb will ‘support’ but will not themselves be part of any such Code of Conduct. Airbnb will not guarantee that landlords or clients will honour anything. And what’s more, Airbnb does not seem to care. Airbnb’s Terms and Conditions are very clear – they won’t even guarantee the identity of those using their Platform:
“2.4 User verification on the Internet is difficult and we do not assume any responsibility for the confirmation of any Member’s identity.”
It is also claimed that ’Corporate Crime is Built into Airbnb’s Business Model’.
Meanwhile this week, one NSW Minister received congratulations when he guaranteed to investigate developers who might be subverting the new rules on sunset claw backs on off-the-plan apartment sales.
We are calling upon Ministers to honour the assurance given by one former NSW Minister for Fair Trading, that Real Estate Agents (and others) are responsible for arranging leases on Residential dwellings and apartments and that these Agents (and others):
“are licensed under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002. The Office of Fair Trading would examine any improper or questionable actions undertaken by a real estate agent, including actions that would be in breach of the consumer protection provisions of that Act or the strata or tenancy legislation. Penalties for breaching the legislation include a range of disciplinary actions from a reprimand to cancellation of a licence and disqualification from involvement in a real estate business.”
HIRA acknowledges that their clients are “not Tenants” and, too, in their proposed Code of Conduct that the property they are controlling is a “home”. Tenants are barred from accessing these homes; higher paying short-term clients are the targets.
Mixing short-term rentals with permanent residents is fundamentally incompatible. And while hundreds of Airbnb listings are now ‘outed’ on the Twitter feed @SISTRO11, our Legislators remain silent.
We are calling time: time that the Departments of Planning and Environment, Housing and Innovation and Better Regulation take action to protect the rights of NSW Residents. Platforms and Agents facilitating the removal of residents from our residential housing stock in favour short-term tourist/visitor rentals should, as promised, lose their licenses to operate in New South Wales.
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits Neighbours not Strangers