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Airbnb and subsidiary HotelTonight are reported to have cancelled all bookings in the Washington DC metro area during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. “The decision comes as the company has been made aware of emerging reports that armed militias and hate groups are attempting to travel to disrupt the inauguration.” Under its Terms of Service, Airbnb has “no obligation” to undertake checks designed to help very “identity or background”, “obtain reports from public records of criminal convictions or sex offenders registrations or their local equivalents”. Nor does Airbnb “endorse or warrant the existence, conduct, performance, safety, quality, legality or suitability of any Guest, Host, Host Service, Listing etc…” No Airbnb? No Problem. Craigslist, the American classified advertisements website, is filling the rental void: One-bedroom apartments a little over a mile from the Capitol are running $250 per night, but there's a catch ... ya gotta book a minimum of 3 nights. That gets ya a fully furnished pad with a full kitchen that could come in handy due to COVID restrictions at restaurants.”

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that an influx of short-stay accommodation back onto the rental market “puts downward pressure on longer-term rent prices”, quoting rents in Millers Point, as just one example, recorded a staggering 30.5 per cent reduction in the median asking rent in the year to December. Short-term rental proponents have always claimed that their commercialisation of housing doesn’t distort the property market. Data from AirDNA, quoted in the SMH article, would clearly refute that statement. The Stayz Corporate Affairs representative said, “the company experienced strong growth in bookings last year with listings predominantly located in regional locations”. While Airbnb Australia’s head of public policy claims, “hosts were focused on how they could play a role in helping to drive economic recovery within their communities” – suspect that is within the groups converting homes into unregulated tourist accommodation and not residential communities at large.

In April 2020, Lisa Porgazian told The Guardian that she and her husband had listed their three Gold Coast apartments on Airbnb. The properties are empty, and mortgage payments will come out of the couple’s superannuation: “We were relying on this for our income, as well as our retirement plan. Now that’s completely died in the arse.” Porgazian’s website, Lisa’s Leases, currently has 5 properties in the ACT and Queensland listed on Houfy . Ms Porgazian also administers the social media group, Airbnb and STR (Short Term Rental) Hosts in Australia – see photo.

Pete Smith, CEO & Founder @ Short Term Holiday Property Management, 150 properties in the Hunter, Port Stephens, Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle”, currently 130 Airbnb listings, was a Board Member of the Holiday Rental Industry Association (HRIA) – the precursor of ASTRA - which was represented at a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry by fellow HRIA Board Member Trevor Atherton. Mr Atherton went on to confirm under oath to a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into short-term rentals that such rentals are “illegal” in New South Wales. Pete Smith has volunteered to Ms Porgazian and others his views of Neighbours Not Strangers’ convener (see photo).

Australian Short-Term Rental Association (ASTRA) Board Member Joan Bird (Snowy Mountain Escape Holidays) continues to provide comments on social media, falsely claiming that Neighbours Not Strangers’ convener is “aligned with owners corporation network with many members representative of many strata committees and James Thomson who writes for the financial review as “jimmy T” – owner of the flat chat newsletter that 1000s of strata owners subscribe to. Ms Bird wrote, “OCN were given a seat on the working committee for the NSW STRA reforms and if they had their way would shut us down completely. It appears that they allow Trish to be the “venom” on their behalf.”

We are well aware that HRIA/ASTRA have at all times been permitted a voice and representation at Parliamentary Inquiries into illegal short-term rentals plus a seat on advisory panels to the likes of NSW Departments of Planning and Fair Trading, while community groups across NSW, including the NSW Council for Civil Liberties are excluded. One also notes the number of submissions to Parliament that were marked by Committee Members as ‘Confidential’ – MPs muzzling those critical of short-term rentals, some of whom documented Court Orders against sitting MPs for their “illegal use of premises”.

Our position is clear: unlicensed short-term rental operators rob us of housing and community; the impacts on residential communities and individuals cannot and should not be underestimated. We ask that Ministers and all Members of the NSW Parliament respect the proprietary rights of residential title deed and residential tenancy agreement holders, uphold NSW Land and Environment Court case law judgments, see to the application of Federal Building Codes and Disability Access Legislation and heed advice of Coroners and Fire & Rescue Authorities from around Australia.

NSW Local Government Authorities must be mandated to enforce residential planning, zoning and approvals to prevent unauthorised short-term letting of housing. The proliferation of illegal holiday rentals is a huge problem for the residents of NSW and for legitimate tourism accommodation providers.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers


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