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According to a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, Randwick Council is considering bypassing Federal Legislation and setting aside Residential Zoning to permit homes to operate as non-accredited hotels and serviced apartments for 90-nights per year. This small Council area has already lost 3,493 homes to Airbnb. Together with neighbouring Waverley (5,696 Airbnb rentals), they are approaching the City of Sydney’s 9,820 homes lost Airbnb to date. Assuming landlords comply with a 90-night cap, such a retrospective rezoning could see remaining tenants evicted each summer while owner/occupiers are left to live in a transit zone. Airbnb landlords are already swapping details on software that allows them to spread and synchronise bookings across multiple platforms.

ABC Radio questioned at the end of an on air interview last week whether there was ‘Conflict of Interest’ in the case of the NSW Government and numerous MPs when it comes to how changes to Planning and Zoning legislation are being proposed in the face of demands from Airbnb, Expedia etc.

The ABC approached Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro over his links with different online platforms; the ABC subsequently advised: “We sort (sic) a reply from John Barilaro but didn’t get a response.”

Questions that have been put to Mr Barilaro in relation to his short-term rental, Dungowan Estate, include:

  • As Minster for Small Business, how do you ensure that accredited accommodation providers - ie Small Business Owners - are not disadvantaged by the commercial operations at Dungowan Estate?

  • Is the property a (Federal) Building Codes of Australia Class 1(a) dwelling or has it been upgraded to a Class 1(b) or Class 3 dwelling?

  • Is the property compliant with Federal Disability Access Legislation for commercial operations?

  • Is the property subject to a Local Government Development Approval and has consent been granted for short-term tourist/visitor accommodation?

  • Is Scott Martin, Director Planning & Environment, Goulburn Mulwaree Council, or his Staff Members, in a position to challenge any aspects of a Deputy Premier's use of Residential dwellings for tourist and visitor accommodation plus oversee issues of compliance?

  • Is the property subject to annual Fire Inspections undertaken by the Local Council?

  • Is the swimming pool subject to any mandatory inspections carried out by Council of all tourist, visitor and multi-occupancy developments?

  • Is there a licence for the serving of alcohol (Liquor Act 2007)?

  • Is there compliance with the NSW Food Safety Act?

  • Is there compliance with all Work Cover legislation?

  • Is there a licence to act as a party venue/wedding facility?

  • Is there compliance with the Hospitality Industry General Award 2010?

  • Short-Term Rentals are not NSW Residential Tenancy Agreements. Assuming therefore that there is no compliance with the NSW Residential Tenancies Act at this property?

  • Are any GST contributions paid?

  • Is State Land Tax paid, given the commercial operations?

  • Are gross domestic council rates paid?

  • Have any septic upgrades (or similar) been undertaken?

  • While commercial clients are in residence, is the property staffed?

  • Are residential or commercial water rates paid?

  • What commercial public liability insurance is held?

  • As per Expedia/HomeAway's website: "This is a $5 million property". If there is a mortgage over the property, are commercial or home-loan repayments made?

  • On how many short-term rental platforms do you have this property listed?

  • Are any road contributions paid?

The US short-stay rental giant, Expedia/HomeAway has criticised the Australian tourism industry for failing to include short-let representatives onto Australian tourism boards. Expedia representatives argue they want “to work with other major industry players to ensure a regulation outcome which is equitable to all parties”. Except homeowners and small accredited accommodation providers, of course. Director of the group Port Douglas Direct has branded an Expedia campaign as “a new low: the decision to promote the region in tandem with the online travel agency, which was recently named in a UK crackdown on agencies using misleading marketing practices is “an act of pure negligence”. The NSW Government is partnered with Expedia. On questions about the legality of the web platform’s operations – “DestinationNSW does not carry out regulatory functions”.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers

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