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To quote Airbnb watchers in San Francisco: “So Business Insider is republishing a corporate press releases? Is it a package deal? You pay for the “article” and receive the social media promotion for free? (The) idea that Airbnb rentals are about to get a lot cleaner is as laughable as the “ban” on party houses, discrimination…” Yes, Business Insider writes, “Airbnb has released a 38-page handbook with cleaning and disinfecting protocols – and it suggests that ‘hosts’ have full PPE on hand, including optional shoe coverings”. Hosts should wear personal protective equipment from head to toe when cleaning rooms and shared spaces after a guest stay. And why would any of Airbnb’s landlords comply with a 38-page cleaning manifest, when they fail to comply with residential zoning or consider the rights of neighbouring residents?

It is obvious that platform users do not read Airbnb’s Terms of Service; Australian platform users sign a waiver that says they will not sue:

18. Indemnification

To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, you agree to release, defend (at Airbnb’s option), indemnify, and hold Airbnb and its affiliates and subsidiaries, including but not limited to, Airbnb Payments, and their officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your breach of these Terms or our Policies or Standards, (ii) your improper use of the Airbnb Platform or any Airbnb Services, (iii) your interaction with any Member, stay at an Accommodation, participation in an Experience, Event or other Host Service, participation in the Group Payment Service, including without limitation any injuries, losses or damages (whether compensatory, direct, incidental, consequential or otherwise) of any kind arising in connection with or as a result of such interaction, stay, participation or use, or (iv) your breach of any laws, regulations or third party rights.

So how lucky will a Gold Coast landlord be in suing Airbnb, after $250,000 of luxury items were allegedly stolen by her Airbnb guest? Who gives strangers the keys to one’s home when it is full of expensive items? Police have reportedly made an arrest.

Stayz Corporate Affairs Director, Eacham Curry says Coffs Harbour City Council is correct to ask for community feedback but should ultimately vote for the tourism sector. Stayz is owned by Seattle-based Expedia; the holiday rental website is insisting that those running unstaffed hotels/serviced apartments should take priority over accredited accommodation providers and residents in residential buildings and suburbs. The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on overseas arrivals and departures reveals the extent of the devastation caused by COVID-19: “It is (as expected) horrific news for the industry and shows an extraordinary 99.7 percent decrease in April 2019, the largest decrease on record”, AccomNews Australia.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading would appear to have finalised its proposed Short-Term Rental ‘Code of Conduct’ with no word yet on how one is supposed to collect and present proof of breaches, given NSW Supreme Court precedence whereby a defendant would be able to rely on a claim of ‘nuisance’ in response to a neighbour’s complaint. And how will legislators maintain any form of reliable Short-Term Rental Register when NSW State MPs and others know how to list homes across literally hundreds of booking platforms?

The Office of Fair Trading provided the responsible Minister with advice that it “would examine any improper or questionable actions undertaken by a real estate agent…Penalties for breaching the legislation include a range of disciplinary actions from a reprimand to cancellation of a licence and disqualification from involvement in a real estate business”. Last year a Specialist Services representative from NSW Fair Trading advised that where it had advice that Council deemed the short-term tourist/visitor use of a residential dwelling a breach of residential zoning, at the very least Fair Trading would contact the Agent to say that Fair Trading had clear advice saying that what the agent is doing is illegal, asking if the agent was aware of this, and if not, put the agent on notice that they are indeed involved in the "illegal use of premises". Where an agent confirmed that they were aware of their "illegal use of premises", Fair Trading advised it would ask for notice of why the agent was using property for illegal purposes: “This issue comes back to zoning regulations.” Councils can choose to take action against property owners themselves and a Council can also work with Fair Trading so that Fair Trading takes action against the Agent; in the words of Fair Trading’s representative: "Either way is possible. Should you have information from council confirming that the activities of an agent are not in accordance with zoning regulations you are welcome to submit this information to Fair Trading for further assessment of the agents conduct.” That was May 2019.

NSW Fair Trading has been provided with an example of a NSW Council nominating Agents who are renting residential dwellings in breach of zoning… Latest advice from NSW Fair Trading is to now “canvass the idea of contacting the Mayor, or the Minister for Local Government”. And around and around and around we go.

The latest NSW Government easing of COVID-19 restrictions: There are no limitations to travelling within NSW. (One) may travel to regional NSW for a holiday. Up to 20 people may stay in a holiday home or holiday rental. More than 20 people can stay in a holiday home or holiday rental if they are all members of the same household. This is a contradiction of the current Government position that a holiday let must have a maximum of 2 persons of any age per bedroom up to a maximum of 6 bedrooms. Deputy Premier John Barilaro will be happy; his Dungowan Estateadvertises 16+ guests.

Airbnb and Stayz: “A recipe for disaster to neighbouring residential amenity.”

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