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Some Australian landlords who have turned homes into commercial short-term rentals write today that they have received ‘free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms’, courtesy of the US$31 billion Airbnb (see photo). Problem is, the giveaways reportedly don’t comply with Australian Building Code standards.

Meanwhile, another US giant - Boeing - has just replaced its head of commercial airplane unit and stripped CEO Dennis Muilenburg of his chairman role amid the 737 Max crisis, after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. Reportedly Boeing pilots knew about a control glitch two years before the deadly crashes. It is impossible to miss news of Boeing’s crisis, so why is Airbnb calling for ‘a light touch’ in terms of regulations and why is it pulling this cheap ‘free smoke alarm’ stunt here when it knows the real and potentially deadly consequences?

Airbnb’s objective is to undercut and overtake the Hotel/Accommodation Industry in terms of room nights and profits. Nothing more. Nothing less. Yet Airbnb doesn’t own or certify the properties from which it derives its revenue. In order to increase market share it will advertise and sell any type of ‘shelter’, from a tent, panel van, tree house, barn…to a State Deputy Premier’s $5million ‘get-away’. In terms of Australian Building Code/Fire/Disability compliance, all any NSW landlord must do to list on Airbnb’s website is to ‘tick a box’.

The SMH reports today that the NSW Government has taken a ‘monumental step’: Developers “must adhere to “declared” designs… This will be complemented by a new requirement for the registered practitioners to submit “declared designs” for their buildings, which must comply with the Building Code of Australia”.

In the tragic case of a four-year-old child who perished in a holiday house fire in Adaminaby, the Officer in Charge concluded that “Industry and Local Government do not regulate to any significant degree, if at all, aspects of fire safety within the holiday rental market and certainly not to any degree that is evident within the commercial hotel industry”. The NSW Coroner went on to declare:

“There is clearly a need for review of fire safety standards in the

short term holiday rental market…”

Following the death of Connie Zhang in a unit block fire in Bankstown, the NSW Coroner made direct recommendations to the Minister for Planning, Minister for Health and the Minister for Emergency Services. Surely any reasonable NSW resident would consider it incumbent on Ministers of our State to follow all coronial recommendations.

In terms of compliance with Federal legislation no less a criterion as that announced today for Developers by NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson is acceptable. All short-term tourist/visitor accommodation must be registered and comply with the Building Code of Australia. Lives depend on this. Anything less would be held or seen to be wilful negligence.

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