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Yesterday, Julia Verdouw, fellow at the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of Tasmania, and Murray Cox from Inside Airbnb, were in conversation with Jonathan Green on ABC Radio’s ‘Blueprint for Living’ program. Their short podcast is here. They spoke of the seemingly innocuous transaction of booking an Airbnb for an overnight or weekend, which effectively empties housing of residents and is leading to a full-blown “housing crisis”.

As soon as the ABC’s program had run its course, on social media an Airbnb troll rubbished Murray Cox personally and the data he presents, which is based entirely on that which Airbnb produces. So, looking a fresh at Airbnb’s nameless and often faceless ‘Moms & Dads and Trolls with a spare room’, here are a just some of those skewering Sydney homes and communities for profit:

Hey ‘Tam’, Hey Tom, hey Airbnb: Here is 2 Horden Street Newtown. It was a commercial Medical Centre. City of Sydney Councilissued a change of use from commercial to residential use. Now 2 Horden Street is operating as a commercial Airbnb - 4 bedrooms /11 ‘guests’. Neighbours are furious at the City of Sydney Council for failing to enforce residential zoning.

In September, Transport for London published guidelines banning short-term rental adverts across the capital’s transport network. Last week saw a call for Edinburgh to follow Transport for London’s ban. Such adverts were labelled “an immense insult” to the city’s homeless and those living in unaffordable housing due to rising rents.

At her recent Town Hall Christmas Party, Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore made mention of the City’s efforts in “tackling housing affordability through levies, amended planning controls, discounted property sales and direct funding”. Ms Moore went on to say that “the City has supported the delivery of 835 affordable homes, with another 956 in the pipeline”. At the same time, the City of Sydney any other Councils across the Metropolitan area still refuse to enforce residential zoning and building codes which, as of 30 November, had seen 38,338 homes emptied of residents, to be replaced by Airbnb clients. Individuals are powerless. Power to enforce residential zoning, and at the same time protect housing and communities, lies with legislators:

"Zoning Laws are only as good as the enforcement behind them. If you don't enforce, what's the good of having them on the books? It comes down to trust in Public Officials to enforce the laws...because if they won't enforce, they might as well not be there." Jay Brinkmann, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research and Education at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)

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