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“San Francisco couple who illegally rented out 14 apartments on Airbnb are hit with a $2.25 million fine by city.” The couple were forced to put up their real estate holdings as collateral to ensure that they pay the fine.

Here in Sydney, back in 2007, well-know Short-Term Rental Operator “Con Kotis, the managing director of Australian Executive Apartments and 187 Kent Street Management Pty Ltd”, took the City of Sydney to the Land and Environment Court and lost. Kotis then appealed the Court’s judgment and lost. The City of Sydney held fast and defended the rights of Residents at 187 Kent – no Short-Term Rentals. Kotis wrote (21/08/12) a propos his court action:

“The burden of costs was on myself and the participating owners,

NOT the Owners Corporation.”

Kotis subsequently ceased his operations in Kent Street and moved out of the building. When his identical short-term rental operations were later questioned by Residents at the Bridgeport building in Bridge Street, Kotis teamed up with numerous State MPs and Lawyers and multiple legal threats were issued against those who had raised the matter. The City of Sydney Council, when verbally advised that the prominent Lawyer involved had exchanged ‘Contracts of Sale’ on his Bridgeport units, finally took Kotis/Australian Executive Apartments to the Land and Environment Court (LEC).

Voluntary Orders from the LEC together with Penal Notice were accepted by the Respondent, Kotis, who paid the City of Sydney’s Legal costs - $10,000; and nothing further. Kotis’ Lawyers subsequently continued to threaten the Council-appointed spokesperson representing Bridgeport Owners. Present day: Short-term rentals have returned to Bridgeport.

The NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Actsets out Ministerial and other enforcement powers,Powers of entry and search, Powers to obtain information, etc. Importantly, the Act also sets out Penalties:

Maximum penalty

(a) in the case of a corporation: (b) in the case of an individual:

(i) $5 million, and (i) $1 million, and

(ii) for a continuing offence * (ii) for a continuing offence **

* a further $50,000 for each day the offence continues

** a further $10,000 for each day the offence continues

Following Neighbours Not Strangers’correspondence to Rod Sims, Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission(ACCC), we’ve received an apology for the delay and finally a response:

“Whilst we appreciate the gravity of your concerns it is our view this matter would be more appropriately addressed by a Minister for Local Government. We encourage you to continue to raise your concerns in relation to allegations of collusion between (DestinationNSW, National Parks NSWand)property, stock and business agents and short term booking platforms, such as Airbnb and the illegal use of residential housing with Hon Matthew Kean MP Minister, the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation and the Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts as it is the most appropriate course of action that the relevant Ministers consider your views regarding legislative amendments.” Melissa, Correspondence Officer, (ACCC).

Been there, done that...time and time and time again. No Member of the NSW Parliament will address our grave concerns. And Melissa (ACCC) obviously hasn’t read the latest news on Minister Upton’s office; the Hon Gabrielle Upton is the Minister ‘responsible’ for Local Government. Truthfully, the ACCC’s suggestions are worthless.

Who will tackle the issue of Airbnb-type rentals? Residents have laptops. Airbnb has US$31 billion.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers

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