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Nowadays Hugh McCullum would be typical of Airbnb’s ‘Mums & Dads’; he has been an Airbnb ‘host’ since 2011. Hugh has five Airbnb apartments in Potts Point - ”The five homes we own (not just manage)” and “lives a minute away” in another property. (In another online post, Mr McCullum wrote that he is a “director of the ........ building, .. Springfield Avenue Potts Point”.) With currently 1,085 Airbnb Reviews, his short-term rental studios and apartments are listed across multiple other websites. Online property data indicates that all studios/apartments are zoned “Residential” and the current estimated worth of this Airbnb property portfolio is between $2.8m-$3.05million – Mr McCullum’s primary place of residence excluded:

A Dance Loft Conversion - 3/177-179 Victorian Street Potts Point – 1 bedroom - 4 ‘guests’

Apt – Sunny with Views – 32/20-22 Springfield Avenue Potts Point – 1 bedroom - 4 ‘guests’

Apt – Regents Court A – 47/18 Springfield Avenue Potts Point – studio - 4 ‘guests’

Apt – Regents Court B – 48/18 Springfield Avenue Potts Point – studio - 4 ‘guests’

Cosy Central Studio – 23/101-103 Macleay Street Potts Point – studio - 4 ‘guests’

In a newspaper article last year residents told of their anger at the growing number of rowdy backpackers in ‘party hostels’. A “Company director Hugh McCullum” complained that, for their behaviour, the backpackers “never receive fines…Complaints to the hostels at night fall on deaf ears.” The issue received further wide coverage in the Murdoch press.

Locals are well aware that complaints to the City of Sydney Council over landlords running illegal short-term rentals in residential buildings and the anti-social behaviour of their clients also fall on deaf ears. Yet, when an Airbnb client complains about his or her ‘host’, Mr McCullum recommends in an online Airbnb forum that ‘hosts’ leave clients “a review that will make them as welcome as toxic waste”.

Airbnb ‘hosts’ have also discussed the precise legislative requirement to provide an owners corporation in a residential strata scheme with details of leases or subleases. Hugh McCullum writes: “…in Potts Point short term letting is not an issue. That said, even in some properties with anal retentive strata committees…roll keeping is not an issue. They are impossible to maintain and owners are under no obligation to provide proof. They could say Donald Duck was the tenant and be compliant.”

All five studios and one-bedroom apartments operated by Mr McCullum are advertised for “4 guests”, thus exceeding the recognised occupancy limits under NSW Fire and Rescue safety regulations.

It is close to six months since NSW Fire and Rescue made a submission to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) on short-term Airbnb-type rentals. Late last week a representative from the DPIE wrote that they are unable to provide a copy of the NSW Fire and Rescue document “because submissions to that exhibition have not yet been published”.

A Hugh McCullum was amongst those voicing ‘anger’ to the Media over “bars, restaurants and even brothels in residential areas all having to abide by tight regulations and conditions”, while large groups of backpackers are reportedly “congregating on the street, drinking, partying, shouting, swearing and blocking footpaths”.

Kings Cross and Potts Point residential buildings are awash with Airbnb rentals. Why aren’t illegal short-term letting operators abiding by the well-documented residential Zoning, Building Codes, Fire and Rescue plus all other “tight regulations and conditions”?

Please: Where are the City of Sydney’s Compliance Officers?


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