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“SHOOTING, SEX CRIME AND THEFT: Airbnb Takes Halting Steps to Protect Its Users”

In the run up to its expected 2020 IPO and in the wake of a mounting, often-murderous crime toll, the Wall Street Journal has detailed how Airbnb employees pushed for more stringent safety measures but were overruled. “After heated debate, other company executives, including co-founder and Chief Executive Brian Chesky, rejected it.” The contents of the WSJ article (pay wall) are sobering. Here is a similar, much less detailed, article. In Australia, Airbnb has sent a cartoon message about noise to clients who have booked homes over New Year – see photos below.

Last week a Melbourne Airbnb ‘superhost’ was convicted of four counts of rape against a 19-year-old female client in 2017. It took the UK’s Daily Mail and the Herald Sun to break the story. The offender told the Court: “…I’m an Airbnb host, I take my role very seriously.” Airbnb states: We check Superhosts' activity four times a year, to ensure that the program highlights the people who are most dedicated to providing outstanding hospitality. The 43-year-old offender is awaiting sentencing. There is no indication as to how long it took Airbnb to delist the Melbourne rapist and little news of this incident elsewhere in the Australian Media.

Israeli Airbnb/Stayz management group Guesty has opened an office in Sydney. According to the SMH, “the start up has had customers in Australia for years…before opening an office (they) had millions of dollars in revenue here”. There is no transparency on the number of homes Guesty operates in Australia. Probably another example of the listing of hundreds of homes under contrived ‘host ids’ with homes listed across Airbnb, Stayz, Booking, Expedia, Agoda “and more”. Another report states Australia encompasses about 33,500 professionally managed short-term rentals using around 750 property management companies: “Entire buildings are being snapped up by professional property management companies looking to oversee the hottest inventory in key destinations.”

Here is Sydney landlord ‘Air’ has 79 Airbnb listings, but only two reviews claiming clients stayed in properties. Should this also be reported to our NSW Cyber Crime unit as possibly another money-laundering portal, courtesy of Airbnb?

In 2013 Justice J Pepper of the NSW Land and Environment Court judged that using residential dwellings for short-term holiday rentals “offends and undermines the planning regime of the Gosford LGA and ultimately of the State…the enforcement of the relevant planning law is…in the public interest.” Addressing the 2016 Parliamentary Inquiry into short-term holiday rentals, President of (holiday letting organisation) HLO Central Coast Inc Donat Kobeleff advised that, following the Land and Environment Court judgment: “Basically we already had a draft LEP in front of the Department of Planning and Environment…the council had to move very quickly.” Gosford Council subsequently amended its Local Environmental Plan to permit short-term holiday rentals, with zero oversight of Building Codes of Australia requirements. Daniel Kobeleff told State MPs: “I think it is really worthwhile for the Committee to thoroughly examine this LEP. It is very cleverly written and it has lots of layers in it.”

Back in January, Debbie Kobeleff wrote on Social Media: “Airbnb is the disease not the cure. Airbnb started the rot…just did a 7 day booking for January 19:- fees:- over $1,100.00 how can this be justified ???? On top of that Expedia is holding approx. $20,000.00 of my deposits, my cash flow has been killed…while Expedia (HomeAway) profiteers (sic) at my expense!” Debbie and husband Donat have now listed for sale their Pointbreak Beach House at Copacabana for $4.8 million. Their booking calendar shows the home is booked solidly through the holidays for around $1,060 average/night. Your average Mum an’ Dad turning a home into a small profit.

According to Stayz, the Central Coast Council has lost a huge number of homes to holiday rentals: Killcare: 1,676 homes, Terrigal: 1,449 homes, The Entrance: 821 homes, Avoca Beach: 1,421 homes, Ettalong Beach: 1,655 homes, Copacabana Beach: 2,141 homes, Bouddi: 2,270 homes, Magenta: 1,594 homes. Or, in other words, 13,027 homes lost. Plus there’s Airbnb as well.

Still waiting for NSW Legislators to uphold our residential proprietary rights and the rights of accredited B&B neighbours…

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