AIRBNB COPS €8 MILLION FINE / PARIS LANDLORD’S €15,000 FINE UPHELD


A court in Paris has fined Airbnb for failing to comply with local regulations. “Airbnb should pay US$9.6 million (€8.08 million) to the city of Paris…This is the first time in France that a local government wins a case against a tech giant,” Paris Deputy Mayor Ian Brossat said in a statement. Other French cities are actively working to ruin Airbnb’s European summer, with stays in France’s rural areas accounting for 45 % of bookings this summer, compared with 24 % back in 2019. Last month the French government issued an executive order that makes it harder for owners to convert commercial properties into tourist accommodation. Earlier, French courts ruled against property owners’ demands to rent out second homes without informing local authorities. One Parisian landlord who rented their second home through Airbnb must pay a €15,000 fine.


Back in May a letter was sent to Airbnb Country Manager AUNZ Susan Wheeldon, asking why the company was still listing properties covered by NSW Land and Environment Court Orders obtained by the Council of the City of Sydney. Follow up correspondence also failed to elicit a response. Next week ‘Travel Daze 2021’, presented by Tourism Australia and promoted by Travel Weekly has Airbnb’s Susan Wheeldon as a featured speaker. We asked Travel Weekly if the question could be put to Ms Wheeldon a propos the company’s listing of residential dwellings covered by Court Orders and Penal Notices. We have now been blocked by Travel Weekly from accessing their sites.


Bloomberg reports: US investors chasing housing returns target massive pools of Airbnb rentals, building massive portfolios of houses to rent out on Airbnb. “The business model has been proven, and now the opportunity is to do this at scale. People can’t figure out how to deploy capital quickly enough”, said Scott Shatford, CEO of AirDNA. Leilani Farha, former OHCHR Special Rapporteur on Affordable Housing says: “The business model…treats homes as underperforming assets, squeezing every last cent from every square foot of property. It pits a multimillion-dollar company and the wealth it can leverage against individual home buyers.” Macquarie Group is branching into UK rental housing with a $1.9 billion investment. “Macquarie is joining some of the world’s biggest investors by seeking a slice of a property class that’s proved resilient during the pandemic…”


On a slightly smaller scale, Byron residents flagged that Melbourne-based Scott Didier of ASX-listed Johns Lyng Group and Scott Emery of online lender MoneyME, have scooped up (for about $80 million) the Great Northern Hotel at Byron Bay. In January of this year, Didier made headlines: Business mogul’s plans to build a Byron Bay mansion sparks backlash from his new millionaire neighbour – forcing him to ‘sacrifice’ one floor from rainforest retreat. Didier’s daughter, Casey Durkin and husband Nick, have joined those hoovering up homes in the Byron Bay area for their Beach Houses of Byron short-term rental operations. The couple list 14 homes on their website, and a total of 18 homes via Airbnb, with prices up to $1,383 per night per property.


Bega Valley Shire has voted down a 180-day cap on short-term rentals, following pressure from the US-based online booking platform Expedia/Stayz. At a 30 June Council Meeting, Cr Mitchell Nadin reportedly put forth the notice of motion not to limit short-term rental accommodation in the Shire. Cr Jo Dodds opposed the motion, reportedly saying that the greatest threat to the shire growing was the housing affordability crisis. Other Councillors – Fitzpatrick, Bain, Seckold and Allen – all voted in favour of not limiting short-term rentals. Council’s Director of Community, Environment and Planning Dr Alice Howe said, “Council’s resolution aims to balance long term housing needs with short-term or holiday rentals. The resolution means there will be no limit to how many nights people can rent their properties for short-term accommodation throughout the year, supporting the tourism industry which is critical to our shire…”


In NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ neighbourhood, Northern Beaches Council has written (BLD2021/01198):


“Council has determined that the issues raised – a rock shelf campsite in the backyard of 28 Adams Street Curl Curlare considered generally consistent with Local Government (Manufactured Home Estates, Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 205 Subdivision 3 Installation of movable dwellings elsewhere than in caravan parks or camping grounds. Conditional exemptions:- the installation of not more than 2 caravans, campervans or tents on any land, so long as they are not occupied for more than 2 days at a time and not occupied for more than 60 days (in total) in any single period of 12 months…”


And one could almost guarantee that Northern Beaches Council does not monitor the number of days per year this commercial campsite is operating.


In a ruling that could affect short-term rentals across the US State of Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the argument that short-term rentals were a permissible primary use as a “one-family detached house” was “fundamentally flawed” for failing to “recognise that the short-term rental use of a home is inconsistent with the zoning purpose of the single-residence zoning district in which it is situated ie, to preserve the residential character of the neighbourhood”. This ruling mirrors many a judgment in the NSW Land and Environment Court, which deems mixing short-term rentals with permanent residents “fundamentally incompatible”.

But no one in the State of New South Wales cares about case law precedent, residents’ proprietary rights’ and or the #Right2Housing; except of course the residents of our State.

It would be a wonderful thing if a group of NSW Councils got together and took Airbnb and Expedia to the Land and Environment Court, sought and received fines in the millions of dollars that could be funnelled back into affordable housing for those living in our communities. But no. All our homes have been gifted to these online booking platforms. The Media swallows the line that short-term rentals have been regulated. They have in fact been deregulated in NSW. And so too housing rights.


#Right2Housing Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

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