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Yesterday’s letter by Short-Term Rental Operators Airbnb, Stayz and the Association of Short Term Rental Association (ASTRA) to Federal and State Ministers seeking an industry bailout was preceded by some five days by the Owners Corporation Network. In a letter to the NSW Premier and Minister for Health, the OCN called for a “stop to quarantine letting in residential communities, asking that Minister Brad Hazzard urgently use his extraordinary powers under the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW). In a Media Release the OCN stated the “home quarantine letting business is a very high-risk development…It is outrageous that Airbnb would dump potentially contagious people in unrelated, unprotected communities while they might be infected…” The OCN is offering a ‘NO short term letting by law’, “available to members: $200 + GST”.

In Toronto, Canada, the peak body representing residents, Fairbnb, has brought a class action against a large strata corporation and its property management company. In a statement of claim it alleges that the Defendants are allowing short-term rentals to continue during a global COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result, it asserts that the Defendants are “negligent and liable for damages” - $2,000,000, plus a further $1,000,000 for “conduct sufficiently highhanded and callous as to justify awards of aggravated as well as punitive and exemplary damages”. Fairbnb has made a copy of the claim available on their website, suggesting that every apartment resident in Toronto forward a copy to their building management office, asking that the law on residential occupancies be enforced.

An article in today’s Business Insider says that Airbnb properties are flooding back onto the rental market across Australia, as short-term visitors dry up due to coronavirus travel restrictions. By comparison, the latest data scrape from Inside Airbnb shows a drop of only 763 listings across the entire Sydney Metropolitan Area between 15 February and 16 March 2020. While acknowledging that the situation is extremely fluid, on recent figures, council areas in NSW with high levels of homes still listed by Airbnb include:

Sydney 10,410 Manly 1,809

Waverley 5,278 Clarence Valley 1,645

Randwick 3,392 Woollahra 1,584

Byron Shire 3,371 North Sydney 1,417

Warringah 1,837 Pittwater 1,240

While Airbnb, Stayz (Expedia) and ASTRA are seeking a Government bailout, today Pete Smith, CEO at Weekenda Holiday Properties (114 Airbnb listings) and until last December a Board Member of the Holiday Rental Industry Association, posted to social media: their “phones are running white-hot and 95% people…rescheduling their bookings means that they get to stay another day”. Byron Bay Holiday Rentals are “still open for business” with ‘Hot Deals – April specials now on!’ on 148 Airbnb homes. ASTRA chair, Rob Jeffress has some 400+ Airbnb rentals. Through one of Jeffress many outlets, a quick search over the Easter break and April School Holidays for a 12-person getaway shows four possibilities.

Together with the Owners Corporation Network, we call on Government to ban short-term holiday rentals in our residential communities.


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