ACCORDING TO ASTRA, HOLIDAY RENTAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY NSW FAIR TRADING “MOSTLY NOT SIGNIFICANT”
According to an email distributed by Zsuzsanna Handelsmann, ASTRA (Australian Short Term Rental Association) recently received correspondence from the NSW Department of Customer Service (DCS) in relation to the implementation of a so-called ‘Code of Conduct’ for Airbnb/Stayz-type rentals. Handelsmann writes:
“…the DCS is where the NSW Fair Trading (FT) resides.
The Code came into effect on 18 December 2020, roughly 18 months ago. The DCS has taken this long to complete the exclusion register as they had to deal with unforeseen complications arising from privacy and public access issues.
ASTRA met with the representatives of DCS and FT (sic) few weeks ago, and it transpired that if the exclusion register was operational it would be still empty. In other words the complaints received by FT since Dec 2020 were mostly not significant to warrant a strike, or were relating to customer service issues in general rather than to breaches of the Code. We were very pleased to get this feedback from FT.
The exclusion register will start on 1 August 2022 and that will impose obligations on our members. We hope to be able to sort out the compliance burden once we get feedback of the operational issues…”
The last time our Residents Action Association - Neighbours Not Strangers - was granted a meeting with representatives from a NSW Government agency was on 07 August 2018. Three of our representatives were invited to meet with four representatives from Small Business NSW. An assurance was provided that full details of our presentation would be forwarded to the Minister responsible. We pointed out that the Minister – John Barilaro – was himself an Airbnb operator, as disclosed by the Sydney Morning Herald. We voiced our fear that all points raised, plus legislative and legal positions presented, would be dismissed by the Minister. And predictably, nothing came of the meeting, except that Government Ministers and their representatives have, from that date on, been ‘out of bounds’ to us. At the conclusion of our 2018 meeting, one member of the Small Business Team shared with us that a family member of hers had been raped then murdered by an Airbnb ‘host’ in Melbourne. (A conviction was secured in 2019.)
June 2021 - BBC: Airbnb reportedly paid an Australian tourist US$7 million after she was allegedly raped at knifepoint at a rental property in New York City. Bloomberg News reported the traveller received the payout after an attack on New Year’s Eve in 2015. “After the alleged attack, an Airbnb safety team contacted the local police department to offer its assistance and put the victim in a hotel…as part of the $7m settlement, the victim cannot blame or sue Airbnb or the apartment host where the incident took place.”
What one cannot find are reports of Airbnb making payments here in Australia to those or their loved ones who have been raped then murdered, or raped, or killed (manslaughter), or ‘brutally murdered’, or violently stabbed, or (child) crushed to death, or….
In 2015 a four-year-old boy died in a house fire in Anglers Reach. The fire occurred at a ‘holiday rental’ at 65 Illawong Road. Google Earth shows today an empty block at that location. The official NSW Police Statement says: “…the owner of the destroyed house…lives in South Windsor (Sydney). The rental of the property was organised through Snowy Mountains Holiday Centre in Adaminaby.” No such 'Holiday Centre' is listed at the address given; at the address noted by the Police, the agency now handling the rental of residential dwellings for holiday rentals is the Selwyn Accommodation Centre. At the time of the deadly fire, NSW Police also made enquiries with the Department of Fair Trading in relation to what safety standards, regulations etc were applicable to this type of rental property. A Department spokesperson correctly “indicated that such a short term rental property was not covered by the Residential Tenancy Act and she was not aware of any related safety regulations”. Police also ascertained that such premises were not covered by the Australian Hotels Association or the Inn Keepers Act (NSW); such premises being known in the Industry as “Non-Compliant Short Term Accommodation”.
The official NSW Police Statement laid out details of a ‘Class 1B’ building under the
Changes made by Rob Stokes MP in November 2021 to the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] circumvent criteria as set out in the National Construction Code.
In the 2013 NSW landmark case law judgment – Dobrohotoff v Bennic – Justice Pepper found the adverse impacts of short term holiday rentals on the amenity and wellbeing of neighbouring residents, “as the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates, severe”. According to the ASTRA’s Advisory Committee Member – Business Manager at Robert Jeffress Holdings / Mr Jeffress has approximately 553 holiday rentals as at today’s date – nowadays “the complaints received by FT (NSW Fair Trading) since Dec 2020 were mostly not significant”.
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NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts MP, must immediately rescind Rob Stokes’ Affordable Rental Housing (Short-term Rental Accommodation) SEPP.
Local Councils must be mandated to enforce residential planning, zoning or approval to prevent short-term commercial letting of housing. The proliferation of these properties is a huge problem for housing affordability and availability, for the living conditions of neighbouring residents and for legitimate tourism accommodation providers.
The NSW Government must refer Airbnb, DestinationNSW and other online platforms to the ACCC, when and where the platform/s are aiding and abetting the “Illegal Use of Residential Dwellings”.
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones #Right2Housing People before Profits
Neighbours not Strangers