AIRBNB FOR CRIMINALS
According to yesterday’s SMH, criminals are increasingly using Airbnb rentals to camouflage drug dealing. Three recent NSW Crime Commission investigations involved courier companies delivering drugs to Sydney Airbnb rentals. Meanwhile in the US, Senators are calling for answers after allegations of nationwide fraud on the platform. Here is the US Senator’s letter. If the US Congress can ask Airbnb to share data on their illegal listings, Members of our Parliaments must insist on no less.
Cities such as Tokyo and Paris have implemented stringent controls on Airbnb in order to protect their housing stock and residents. In turn, Airbnb has this past week stitched up a major partnership with the International Olympic Committee. This is seen as a major slap down to the residents and officials in Tokyo (2020 Games) and Paris (2024 Games). Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, has been fighting Airbnb, whose 65,000 listings in the city — against 80,000 hotel rooms — is forcing up rents, driving out residents and turning districts into tourist colonies. Airbnb wants to use housing to replace hotels at the Olympics. Predictably, French hotel groups have suspended their Olympics 2024 Partnership over the Airbnb Deal. Locally, the Tenants Union of Tasmania emphasised this point: “Whatever the number, one fact is indisputable: each dedicated [short-term rental] displaces one permanent household. That household must find another place to live.”
The 31 October shooting deaths of five individuals at a San Francisco Bay Area Airbnb saw the organisation’s Brian Chesky step out to front the Media. Airbnb would immediately ban party houses:
“100% Verified Homes – A newly established team is building the technological and human review protocols to review all Airbnb listings and hosts to verify for accuracy and quality standards. Those that meet our high expectations will be clearly label(l)ed.”
Properties and ‘hosts’ that do not meet the standards for accuracy and quality standards will still be listed on the platform, without this new label. And in yet anther moneymaking promo for Airbnb, landlords will be able to “pay to fast-track verification of their listings”.
So, with party houses supposedly immediately banned and a host’s identity verified, what then of this Sydney Airbnb operator? The price quoted this week for Daisy’s Chippendale listing was $1,352 per night. Daisy’s ID has been “verified” by Airbnb, however neighbours and the property owner report that Daisy is not her name. Airbnb also advertises non-existing Free parking on premises, Gym, Paid parking off premises, and…Paid parking on premises.
Concerned by the large number of mattresses delivered to the home – the listings says 16+ guests – 2 bedrooms – and the all too frequent large, drunken parties held in this narrow, inner city street, neighbours contacted the property owner, who was completely unaware his terrace was sublet on Airbnb.
City of Sydney’s ‘Notice of Determination’ for the Chippendale terrace reads: “CLASS 1A (DWELLING HOUSE) – BCA CONDITIONS”.
The owner of the Chippendale property is attempting to terminate Daisy’s lease. And Daisy is reportedly this week taking the property owner to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) in order to continue subletting the house as a party/events venue.
Airbnb and Daisy’s listing still advertises: “Parties and events are allowed.” With zero response to neighbours’ appeals.
Considering previous action and documents issued by the City of Sydney, one might justifiably categorise the Chippendale Airbnb as an “Illegal Use of Premises”. Owner’s Building Insurance void. So much for Airbnb’s assurances to the international Media that party houses are immediately banned. One US commentator, sick of the multiple shootings and deaths at Airbnb homes and the company’s blatant breach of residential zoning, lamented on Brian Chesky’s position via Twitter: “Specially tough when the "home-sharing" business you built with no concern for local law or neighbors is now killing people just when you want your IPO! Right, Mr.@bchesky?”
Airbnb: Who are the criminals? And NSW Legislators want to deem all such activity as exempt or complying development.