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On Thursday night some 2,500 concerned individuals, City of Sydney Councillors plus a few State MPs filled Town Hall for an assembly on Affordable Housing. Councillors tweeted that they are insanely concerned and on the verge of tears over homelessness and rental stress, yet not a single one will see to action and fines when it comes to the “Illegal Use of Residential Housing” by the likes of Airbnb and Expedia. Land and Environment Court Orders applied for and obtained by the City of Sydney against short-term rentals operators are not worth the paper they are written on, with Council refusing to enforce the Orders and Lord Mayor Clover Moore telling residents to seek their own Legal advice – at a cost of some $20,000 for a Barrister plus a further $50,000 for the matter to be placed before the Land and Environment Court.
Airbnb and Stayz frequently come under fire, with affordable housing advocate Anglicare sounding the alarm on the penetration of housing communities in NSW and Tasmanian ‘hotspots’. Not surprisingly, Airbnb’s spokespersons are refuting new modelling in a Reserve Bank of Australia Report that shows Airbnb is having a definite effect on rental prices. The Report found that vacancy rates are the “strongest predictor” of rents and the conversion of long-term rental stock into Airbnb-style tourist accommodation is reducing rental stock, and subsequently reducing vacancy rates.
Snowy Monaro Regional Council Mayor John Rooney, a former analyst for the Australian Small Business Commissioner, runs the Cooma Visitor Centre Facebook page. Mayor Rooney describes those who seek compliance with Residential Zoning and case law judgments as ‘trolls’: “don’t worry we have deleted the trolls – that’s all they are!” Joan Bird, Holiday Rental Industry Association Board Member and Licensee at Ray White Jindabyne/Snow Escape Holidays, receives support from her Mayor. Today Ms Bird acknowledges that her Local Government Area require Development Consents for short-term rentals and writes that Council does not have the staffing resources to enforce compliance. Ms Bird advertises some 66 holiday rentals and has only one residential tenancy available; she complains about those seeking compliance and describes owners of residential homes and accredited accommodation providers as having “vested interests” in housing. Tellingly, Airbnb listings in Snowy Monaro are up 620% in the two years to December 2018.
Airbnb has recruited former NSW Premier/Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr as their ‘Healthy Tourism’ Ambassador’. Mr Carr’s Randwick Area has lost some 3,500 homes to Airbnb. Council Administrators do not respond to questions on their ‘interpretation of relevant planning controls’ and the number of homes they are happy to lose to holiday rentals.
NSW Parliamentarians are meanwhile distracted by next week’s State elections. We await with interest the outcome.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers

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