Another NSW Department Ensnared in Short-Term Rentals

 

Last December, Chief of Staff for the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Gabrielle Upton, wrote that Short-Term Tourist/Visitor Rentals were “under the portfolio responsibilities of the Hon. Anthony Roberts, the Minister for Planning”.  The Hon. Gabrielle Upton had earlier declined to intervene when Local Government Authorities refuse to enforce Residential Zoning legislation.

 

Yesterday a Canberra Times report set off an alarm bell:  ACT government rakes in profit from own Airbnbs.

 

The Hon. Gabrielle Upton is also Minister for the Environment; her portfolio responsibilities include NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services.

 

And who might be partnering with NSW National Parks and Wildlife for a share of profits from properties inside our National Parks?  A quick search of web platforms shows the ‘winner’ is…not Expedia and not Airbnb…it’s Booking.com, the direct competitor of Expedia (formerly Stayz in NSW).  Time after time one finds our National Park properties listed on the Booking.com platform. 

 

Minister Upton:  are these properties compliant with National Building Codes and Disability Access Legislation, Fire & Rescue requirements; indeed, are they compliant with all legislation covering commercial tourist/visitor accommodation operations?

 

Booking.com has shown continuous growth since 2011.  In 2014, the Organisation announced that its mobile bookings had grown 160% in the previous year to US$8 billion. 

 

According to Wikipedia, Booking.com has been embroiled in many a serious scandal.  Our NSW Legislators appear deaf/dumb to such issues. 

 

Direct links with short-term rental platforms:  Department of Tourism (Minister Adam Marshall), Department of the Environment (Minister Gabrielle Upton), and Department of Ageing (Minister Tanya Davies).

 

Minister Matthew Kean (Innovation and Better Regulation) said in the NSW Parliament last week:  “…the short-term rental accommodation industry and Fair Trading will have responsibility for…administration of a Code of Conduct.  The Code will be developed in consultation with industry participants and associations and short-term rental letting will be a permitted use for residential premises, within certain limits. Minister Anthony Roberts (Planning) will be introducing a statewide planning instrument”. 

 

The Minister repeatedly and correctly referred to the Short-Term Rental Industry - the Industry that is to be granted operating rights within our homes and throughout our Residential neighbourhoods:  currently, “An Illegal Use of Residential Premises”. 

 

Since Ministers Kean and Roberts’ announcement last week, our Community Group has reached 16.8 thousand Residents and had 2.5 thousand engagements on Facebook alone.  We have distributed four Media Releases and attempted to respond to all telephone calls and written communication received from Legislators, members of the Media and Residents.  Fair to say:  The level of distress amongst NSW Residents is palpable.  And State Legislators refuse to acknowledge our Residents’ rights to safe, stable, secure housing.

 

It is totally unfair that individual NSW Residents with zero resources must go into combat against multi-billion dollar foreign-owned corporations.  

 

Respondents before the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC) agree that they cannot guarantee compliance with a Code of Conduct.  The Court judges “the impact of short-term rentals on the amenity and wellbeing of Residents, (as the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates), as severe”.

 

The LEC also judges that Legislators, who by their inaction refuse to enforce Residential Zoning, “fail to fulfil their core functions and fail their constituents”.

 

Airbnb in Japan has removed close to 80 percent of listings after a “Crack Down”.  A 12 June court hearing in France could force the removal of 85% of Airbnb’s listings in Paris, Airbnb’s largest market.  Ministers, that’s what we call a “Crack Down”.

 

Homes not Hotels     Communities not Transit Zones     People before Profits     

Neighbours not Strangers

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