AIRBNB ENCOURAGES HOSTS TO BE MORE LIKE BASIL FAWLTY


It’s Homeless Week this week and the pleas from our National and State Agencies have been picked up by the ABC, Aljazeera, Central Coast Community News, Byron Bay’s Echo, The Catholic Leader, the Eden Magnet, Nambucca’s New of the Area, the Deniliquin Pastoral Times, The Age, Griffith’s Area News, Crikey, The Australian, The Guardian, etc.


Today, Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry told the ABC, “changes to short-term holiday renting legislation across New South Wales will wreak havoc for tenants and amplify the housing crisis. The new laws will come into effect, allowing every house approved as a dwelling to be used as a holiday rental”. Councillor Cherry went on to say:

“Like many other regions across the country, Tweed Shire’s rental situation is ‘dire’, with less than 1% availability for rental homes. Even our key workers – nurses, police, teachers, retail workers are finding it very difficult to get homes and accommodation in this shire.”


Interesting that Tweed Shire Council has blocked all email correspondence from Neighbours Not Strangers to their Councillors. We volunteered to Council the addresses of 368 short-term rental properties in the Tweed Shire. In turn, their Statutory Compliance Officer/Corporate Governance proposed charging us $33,120.00 to verify the information we had provided. In an email to us, Tweed Council’s Manager of Development Assessment wrote:


“Council defers taking any widespread action against any unauthorised or non-compliant short term holiday let (STHL) uses, until the release of new, anticipated State Government STHL legislative and planning policy controls, except in those circumstances where it can be demonstrated that such uses are having an unreasonable impact on the amenity of adjoining or surrounding neighbours as determined by Council…”


SMH senior economics writer Jessica Irvine wrote this week: We need a top-level inquiry into runaway home prices – and Ken Henry’s up for it.” Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader reportedly put forward a motion in support of this concept at a council meeting in late July. University of Sydney’s Dr Cameron Murray tweeted:


“This problem was described in detail in Professor Nicole Gurran and Professor Peter Phibbs’ paper on ‘busy work’ in housing policy. Australia’s governments have run numerous housing affordability inquiries over the decades, including but not limited to:


· Menzies Research centre: Prime Ministerial Taskforce on Home Ownership 2003;

· The Productivity Commission’s First Home Ownership Report in 2004;

· A Good House is Hard to Find Report from the senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability I Australia in 2008;

· Western Australia’s Affordable Housing Strategy 2010-2020;

· NHSC: State of Supply Reports (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 onwards);

· Senate Inquiry into Affordable Housing, 2014-2015; and

· Parliamentary Inquiry into Home Ownership 2015.


On top of these we have gotten many reports from think tanks like the Grattan Institute, the McKell Institute, and others. Thousands or (sic) work-hours and millions of dollars worth of salaries and consultants’ fees have been spent on these reports and absolutely nothing has come from them. So what is the point of wasting more taxpayer dollars, and feathering the nest of Ken Henry and his ilk, by running yet another ‘hosing affordability’ report? Nothing will come from it because our politicians don’t actually want more affordable housing, since this requires prices to fall. Stop wasting every bodies’ (sic) time and money with false promises.”


We have a crushing housing affordability crisis. Everybody well and truly knows this. And still, Planning Minister Rob Stokes has used his ministerial discretion to introduce legislation allowing all homes to be converted to for-profit tourist accommodation. The new legislation takes effect on 01 November 2021 – see letter. And the Planning Minister would be aware that some of his LNP parliamentary colleagues had their illegal short-term rentals listed on more than 155 booking platforms; thus, the legislation, as designed, fails at the first hurdle. And, Ms Sandy Chappel at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment does not respond to correspondence.

Airbnb is getting called out for their now notorious shady and shoddy business practices by none other than Basil Fawlty himself. Even more ironic is the fact that the most inept, incompetent hospitality provider in British history (albeit in comedy form) is now publicly shaming the biggest and supposedly most successful hospitality provider on the planet for being abominable rip-off artists.


And not for the first time has Facebook accused Neighbours Not Strangers of breaching “standards to prevent things such as false advertising, fraud and security breaches”. Our sin? Quoting a NSW Senior Counsel's (Planning, environmental and local government law, building and construction, negligence of statutory authorities) letter to NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation 9/1/17. Plus quoting NSW Land and Environment Court judgments: [1992] NSWLEC43, [2001] NSWLEC10086, [2008] NSWLEC88, [2007] NSWLEC382, [2008] NSWLEC97, [2010] NSWLEC182, [2011] NSWLEC234, [2011] NSWLEC235, [2011] NSWLEC1054, [2012] NSWLEC40466, [2012] NSWLEC143, [2013]NSWLEC61, [2014]NSWLEC14/4923, [2017] NSWLEC188, [2019] NSWLEC45, [2019] NSWLEC1238: Justices J Bignold, J Cowdroy, C Brown, J Jagot, J Pain, J Sheahan, C Murrell, AJ Lloyd, J Pepper, AJ Molesworth, CJ Preston, C Dickson.


Often academic reports on Airbnb, tourism and neighbourhood crime – such as this – appear, relying on the comprehensive data set assembled by InsideAirbnb. The quality and completeness of InsideAirbnb’s data is essential to such work, but it is referenced only briefly, if at all. (Picking on these particular authors may be unfair, because this seems like a common practice.) InsideAirbnb is not like an Office of National Statistics or a grant-funded research institute that has a mandate and funding for their task. It is a small, self-funded effort by one person: New York-based Australian Murray Cox. The fact that InsideAirbnb and Murray Cox have produced quality and scope of data for the last eight years is remarkable. For it to be treated as reliable for research purposes (which it is) and yet utterly taken for granted is unfair. So what should authors and journalists do? At least give InsideAirbnb a place in their acknowledgements. Better, list InsideAirbnb as co-author. Better yet, contact InsideAirbnb and offer financial support towards Murray Cox’s costs.


The hot new concept in vacation rentals is to find a large piece of property where one can get away with renting out multiple units, including not only a house, but also sheds, tents, trailers, etc. Councils across NSW are permitting this as well, with no regard for Federal Building Codes, Disability Access Legislation, Coroners’ Reports and recommendations or the proprietary rights of neighbouring residents.


Every single person deserves a roof over their head and a place to call home. Homelessness is not a failure of those experiencing it — it's a structural failing on the part of a country, state or council that has long refused to prioritise affordable housing and, dare one say, instead favours foreign owned, multi-billion dollar holiday rental platforms.


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

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