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Airbnb has just emailed its landlords and advised that as of 15 December 2019 its Australian/New Zealand platform users may apply to be exempt from paying GST on their ‘host fees’. This applies to Airbnb’s 3% commission but, given Airbnb’s massive turnover, this still represents what some refer to as a major “swindle” on taxpayers and residents.

Following yet still more shooting deaths and major incidents at properties, if an Airbnb ‘guest’ or ‘host’ is found to have violated new Airbnb ‘standards’, which will roll out in 2020, they will face a warning and will have to submit to “required education on Airbnb rules.” Airbnb writes: “further violations can possibly result in account suspension or removal”. Who’s afraid?

A campaign has been launched in the US, calling out Airbnb and CEO Brian Chesky’s “hollow and broken promises”. An interview with New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin has Brian Chesky promising that “every single property - over 7 million - will be reviewed with the intention that 100 % of things on Airbnb are verieifed” and that Airbnb will have “a 24/7 neighbor hotline where any neighbor in any…part of the world can call us 24/7”. Watch here for the response.

Earlier this year the New York Times highlighted how various entities bypass Airbnb’s “One Host, One Home” policy by creating multiple client accounts. Numbers produced by Airbnb obviously contain stark “errors”. In Airbnb, Inc v City of New York, No. 18, Civ, 7712, those acting on behalf of the plaintiff Airbnb were forced to write to District Judge Paul A Engelmayer:

“…various entities operating illegal hotels in New York City devised and successfully implemented strategies intended to evade Airbnb’s One Host, One Home enforcement efforts. One of the methods used by these commercial operators was to utilize a multitude of individuals as “hosts” thereby creating the false impression of a large number of host accounts when in fact there was only one host… We were not aware of the errors in these reports at the time they were submitted or reference to this Court.”

Airbnb is absolutely aware of how its platform is utilised and misused. Aiding and abetting the illegal use of residential housing is the basis of its business model. Airbnb’s Australian Terms of Service are somewhat weaker than those of North America and Europe/UK. Still, they read:

“7.2.1 Unless expressly allowed by Airbnb, you may not list more than one Accommodation per Listing.”

Meet Airkeeper from St Peters in Sydney. And meet their team. Meet Alexandro Dream Homes. Same crew. Today they have 97 homes under numerous ‘host IDs’ listed on Airbnb’s platform: 9 here, 5 here, 6 here, 10 here, 26 here, 9 here, 12 here, 8 here, 5 here, 7 here. Similar to Hometime/Hey Tom’s 512 homes listed under multiple, different ‘host’ identities.

Those who have their rental properties with Hometime may be interested in the photos and details below - all visible on the Internet. We’ve chosen not to reveal the location of properties where the access codes to keys are displayed for all to see.

When will housing, tenants’ rights, neighbouring residents’ proprietary rights and the rights of small, accredited accommodation providers be respected? Where is our Media? Our NSW Legislators must act.

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