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As health officials and politicians battle to find the appropriate response to the novel corona virus, those choosing to short-term rent residential dwellings might seem vulnerable. And with its IPO looming, co-chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Technology and Innovation Council in New York, Dror Poleg writes: “Airbnb is facing the worst collapse of the travel industry since who knows when...(the) corona virus is a coup de grace, it’s the last thing they need.” In response, one reader wrote:

“I would be delighted if Airbnb left the planet.”

Still flying somewhat under the radar in Australia is the (US$18.51 billion Expedia-owned) Stayz. Last week a group of some 30 or so residents met with administrators at VIC Yarra Ranges Council. Director of Government and Corporate Affairs for Stayz, Eacham Curry, was reportedly hooked in via a conference call and it’s understood he received “a beating” from the “very well informed residents”.

Eacham Curry can be directly linked to the Liberal Party as far back as 1993. In 2013 Curry joined Barton Deakin Government Relations, which was founded by former NSW Liberal Party Leader Peter Collins and includes within its ranks many high-profile Liberal identities. And as State Governments ratcheted up their inquiries into the likes of Airbnb, Curry joined, or was perhaps recruited by Expedia.

In May last year Eacham Curry featured in a webinar. In response to a question from one of his Stayz landlords as to how State and Local Governments may try to regulate a ‘night cap’ on short-term rentals, Curry replied:

“…There are night caps that operate in different parts of the world…we’ve got the facilities and the technology built to actually assist Governments who have imposed night caps in such a way as to be able to record that, and I think you’d probably be able to understand that when you’ve used our platforms you can see how things are booked and what’s available to be seen and what’s not available. It’s not too hard to re-jig things in such a way to be, actually be able to report that information so that it can be policed too a bit. Now if somebody wanted to try and get around it, well there’s always ways to do that, and there are always ways to get around paying taxation as well.”

Curry is of course paid to do all to protect Expedia’s market share and revenue, and must too be aware how landlords – NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay being just one example – list a property on 100s of booking platforms, thereby rendering any proposed night cap a complete sham. Today Curry launched into an offensive against NSW Byron Shire Councillors. The Byron Echo runs a detailed article that includes a Q&A plus a statement from Greens Councillor Michael Lyon.

Curry is still pushing for “an industry-administered body to address problems and adjudicate questions about amenity, noise and overcrowding at short-term rental accommodation properties”, while fully cognisant that the industry-administered ‘Code of Conduct’, in place in NSW since 31 May 2012, has perhaps deliberately failed every single neighbour affected by illegal short-term rentals. As to whether a measure, such as a ‘Code of Conduct’ would curb the “fundamental incompatibility” between a mix of residential and short-term tourist/visitor rentals, NSW case law and our Land and Environment Court are absolutely clear: It won’t.

Another argument of Expedia’s is that imposing an arbitrary cap on nights that a dwelling can be available to short-term let won’t suddenly return homes to the long-term rental market. Here we believe Expedia has a point. The simply synchronising of calendars and listing a home across platforms circumvents any and all such initiatives. Simply: Residential Zoning must be enforced.

Our accredited B&B, Guesthouse, Motel and Hotel operators currently need all the support they can get. At the same time, please leave residential dwellings for the housing of residents; respect our proprietary rights and residential communities.


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