AIRBNB: “WATCH OUT! IT’S BIASED”
Currently there is some anxiety over ‘missing payments’ from Airbnb to its landlords. Some, often very large amounts, are 45+ days overdue. And NSW Airbnb platform users are complaining about a massive drop-off in bookings in the Sydney CBD as well as rural areas. On Social Media questions abound over whether bushfires or saturation of the market is the root cause. And be it Dingo Creek or Cessnock, reporters just stumble across Airbnb landlords ready to feature in Media articles. Mark Trevaskis and wife Fiona are those in the “tourism sector”, until regulations are mentioned; then they belong to Airbnb’s community, just ‘sharing’ a home.
ASTRA Chairman Rob Jeffers, who at recent count had 483 homes listed with Airbnb – so much for Airbnb’s ‘One Host, One Home’ policy - emailed short-term rental followers on 23 January, plugging Airbnb and those offering residential dwellings for a night or two to ‘holidaying heroes’. Jeffers also wrote: “One of the other aspect of the bushfires is the need for proper compliance to ensure properties are safe. Many councils have rigorous compliance for properties in bushfire prone areas and we can expect their efforts to increase significantly in the coming year.” Jeffres’ properties are all entire house, unstaffed commercial listings. There is no indication that these properties meet Federal Building Code standards as well as other legislative requirements.
On 08 April 2008 the NSW Minister for Fair Trading reminded Parliament that Real Estate Agents are generally responsible for arranging leases and are licensed under the Property Stock and Business Agents Act. Parliamentary records state: “The Office of Fair Trading would examine any improper or questionable actions undertaken by…agents.” Also, “Penalties for breaching the legislation include a range of disciplinary actions from a reprimand to cancellation of a licence and disqualification from involvement in a real estate business.” In 2019 NSW Fair Trading confirmed that where the activities of an agent are not in accordance with zoning regulations one is “welcome to submit this information to Fair Trading for further assessment of the agents (sic) conduct”. Earlier this month Tweed Shire Council identified, amongst 368 dwellings listed by nine real estate agents, homes advertised for short-term rental by Airbnb in breach of residential zoning. Anyone listing on the Airbnb platform must nominate that they meet all legislative requirements. Details have been sent to Fair Trading and we await the penalties and disciplinary action promised.
Along with NSW, fault of Airbnb platform users, Victoria too has been beset by multiple rapes, murders and widespread destruction of property. CEO Brian Chesky recently guaranteed Airbnb would establish a ‘Rapid Response Team’ to handle such events. Alas, this equates to taxpayer funded Victoria Police, according to Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Australia and New Zealand, Derek Nolan.
Submissions for yet another ‘have your say’ on short-term rentals in the Byron Shire close on 30 January and documents can be found on Council’s website. An editorial in the local Echo.net is highly critical of bias, the process and the penetration of commercial interests in the area: “Did you know that 1,311 listings for entire homes in Byron are listed by only 359 hosts? …this is an industry that has its hooks in our Shire. It’s a tough balance to get right where individual freedoms don’t impinge upon the freedoms of others. Unfortunately, the Byron Shire councillor majority have form in the area of putting developer interests over community…”
Having undertaken all due diligence when purchasing Residential property, the NSW State Government is now intent on turning our homes into hotels and forcing us all to live in an ongoing, unstable, unregulated transit environment. NSW Residents consider this to be akin to an acquisition of our valuable proprietary rights without compensation. For neighbours, this is Airbnb Hell.