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When Next You Visit New South Wales…

At a Local Government NSW Tourism Conference (12-14MAR18) with the Destination NSW logo prominent, more than ‘200 tourism professionals took the opportunity to look at how best to leverage the economic benefits of tourism’, with short-term holiday lettings high on the list of discussion topics. Prominent presenters: Eeacham Curray of Expedia(Stayz) sponsored by HomeAway, and Brent Thomas (Airbnb) together with Waverley Council’s Manager of Strategic Planning. Having heard Waverley Council’s representative pose questions on short-term holiday letting at two earlier public forums, we make no further comment; a phone call and ‘directive’ (14NOV17) from a representative of the Planning Institute of Australia well remembered. Surely Airbnb and Expedia’s presentations and contributions at such an event were hugely ‘conflicted’ – suggesting that all NSW Councils alter their Local Environment Plans to facilitate the commercialisation and short-term rental of our homes perhaps?

We still hold out hope that Local and State Government Representatives will make the connection between our shocking levels of homelessness and Airbnb/Expedia(Stayz) and others’ mass penetration of our housing.

Airbnb’s regional manager says Parkes has a ‘real energy’ - he of course wants unfettered access to homes. And we must send profound thanks to the ABC for their continued coverage of what happens when State Governments hand the keys of residential dwellings to short-term rental platforms. Meanwhile the SMH is reporting that “We’re treating our most vulnerable worse than dogs” when it comes to housing/shelter.

Given the long line of NSW Land and Environment Court case law judgements on the short-term letting of residential dwellings and staying with the subject of ‘Conflict of Interests’: Since the Parliamentary Inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in New South Wales was called in August 2015, we know of no occasion on which either Stuart Ayres or Adam Marshall (in Parkes also for the Conference) NSW Ministers for Tourism and Major Events, have disclosed that Destination NSW would be perhaps the largest facilitator of short-term rentals via portals on the VisitNSW and VisitSydney platforms. Premier Berejiklian and her Ministers have so far not replied to questions on this issue.

Did you know, legitimate accommodation providers meet, amongst other requirements:

  • The National Construction Codes (NCC)/Building Codes of Australia (BCA), developed over many years in response to numerous Coronial Inquiries and Inquests

  • Fire Safety – and the extensive fire safety requirements called for under the NCC/BCA

  • Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010

  • Liquor Licensing – the Liquor Act 2007 and Liquor Act Regulation

  • Food Safety Act NSW

  • Zoning and Development Approvals – stage 2 approval (“direct regulatory costs of $450k, total regulatory costs $2 million and site holding costs of $2.5 million”)

  • Employment – Hospitality Industry General Award 2010

  • The NSW Residential Tenancies Act – short-term rentals are non-compliant (RT 15/37922, RT 15/37925)

  • Taxation – “the non-disclosure system under which STHLs operate aids in the avoidance of Capital Gains Tax, Corporate Taxes plus other Federal/State/Local taxes”

They also:

  • Pay State Land Tax, even though in most cases the property is their principal place of residence

  • Pay (often 4 x) gross domestic council rates

  • Meet council onsite parking requirements

  • Must staff the property 24/7 while clients are ‘in residence’

  • Pay commercial water rates

  • Must have commercial public liability insurance

  • If they have a mortgage, they must pay commercial interest rates

Money Laundering and Human Trafficking - As has been shown by way of North American investigations, Airbnb-type activity is being used to facilitate criminal activity on a global scale. In Australia, Real Estate Agents, Solicitors and Accountants are currently not required to disclose any suspicious activity

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