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‘Airbnb kicks mysterious illegal van renter to the curb’ – so says the New York Post: “After renting bogus, unregistered vans on the streets of New York for two years, Airbnb says: 1. We now provide anonymous data to the city, which is totally useless 2. We kicked them off the platform AFTER the city shut them down, and 3. Thanks for the profits, SEE YA!” Of course, this is a ‘copycat’ scam, where Airbnb vans were turning Sydney’s Northern Beaches into a sewer”.

Nowhere in our mainstream media will one see a report of a Victorian Police drug bust: Yesterday, three people were charged following the discovery of a clandestine drug laboratory in a Yarra Glen short-term rental property. Along with commercial quantities of what is believed to be liquid methyl amphetamine and precursor chemicals, Police also seized cash, false identification, a number of high-end stolen goods including two allegedly stolen BMWs, drones, racing bikes and industrial equipment. Police are reported as saying:

“Illicit drug labs pose significant health and safety risks to the community and many of the chemicals involved in drug manufacture are highly volatile, explosive or carcinogenic in nature. Residual contamination resulting from the manufacture of these illicit substances presents a serious risk to human and environmental health. Sadly, this is another example of drug syndicates taking advantage of short-term rental properties as a location to manufacture drugs. The cost to the legitimate owners of this property is likely to be immense, and there may be damage to the address that is not recoverable.”

Sad news, if by chance it was tenants, without the landlord/s’ permission, subletting the property short-term.

The term ‘Megan’s Law’ has become an umbrella term for all community notification law, which authorise the release to the public of identifying information about convicted sex-offenders. This followed laws introduced in the US State of New Jersey, following the case of seven year old Megan Kanka, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by her neighbour, a twice convicted sex offender who had committed a similar crime only months before. US Residents are unnerved: The Megan’s Law stipulation that any occupation be registered does not apply to sex offenders when they use a short-term rentals, as their temporary stay is not considered a ‘change of address’; their stay being temporary in nature. In some US jurisdictions, residents write of their horror to discover this loophole. (Advice on legislation or legal policy issues was presented to the NSW Parliament for debate back in 1999.) The Australian National Child Offender Register (ANCOR) is a web-based system used in all jurisdictions. Authorised police use ANCOR to monitor persons convicted of child sex offences and other specified offences once they have served their sentences. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016-17 the number of offenders proceeded against by police in Australia decreased for the first time, down 1% since 2015-16, from 418,352 to 413,894. It would seem that no current figures are available. And of course, there is no verification of the true identities of those using online booking platforms like Airbnb and Stayz, to book stays in apartment buildings or other residential settings.

State Government’s Services NSW has an ‘Accommodation Support Grant’. Grants of $2,000 are given to accommodation premises that have had a cancellation of 10 nights or less, or $5,000 is offered for accommodation premises that have had a cancellation of 11 nights or more. A ‘Case D’ premises is “a private holiday rental house (regardless of the number of rooms). Services NSW writes if the short-term rentals are GST registered and a primary business, grants are payable. We’ve asked for confirmation as to whether or not taxpayers’ funds are being paid to Airbnb/Stayz landlords and whether or not Services NSW verifies if the listings are an “illegal use of premises” or accredited accommodation facilities. No response.

On Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported ‘Small camping company returns $51,000 in JobKeeper payments. So did the Brisbane Times. So did The Age. So did Flipboard. So did Head Topics Australia. So did Carabiner News. So did Reddit. The ‘small camping company’ is Hipcamp, a San Francisco-based online platform service, valued in 2019 at more than US$300 million. This return of $51,000 in JobKeeper payments seems to have paid off handsomely, in terms of free advertising and media exposure for a US company worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Or is that too negative an assumption?

Yesterday, 9 News Entertainment stable mate - the Financial Review - ran an article for another online free-camping operator - Riparide. Listings consist of ‘accommodation’ and ‘experiences’ and ‘vehicles’. Although Victorian-based, in late September Riparide partnered with Montreal-based Cloudbeds, a browser-based hospitality management software company, providing software to “thousands of hotels, hostels, and groups in over 115 countries. With over 300 integrations, Cloudbeds connects to more marketplaces than any software in the hospitality management industry”.

There is of course zero clarification of what listings on the Hipcamp and Riparide platforms meet our Federal, State and Local Government legislation in terms of their commercial tourist/visitor operations.

Our new State Premier Dominic Perrottet is on the record endorsing Airbnb and its ilk saying, “governments should not stand in the way”. Apps that form part of what he called the “collaborative economy” were ‘a good thing for society’. “This is the free market on steroids. It’s individuals, or businesses, seeking to make the best use of their existing assets, for a profit. It’s being an entrepreneur at a grassroots level. It’s a mix of technology, trust and low-cost options to effectively meet demand – and it’s all done without government intervention…My view is that governments should not stand in the way of this change but seek to facilitate it.” Premier Perrottet was critical of “most left-wing jurisdictions like New York”, cracking down on such platforms. “This is because they are stuck in the old world of heavy regulation, union dominance, high fees, high taxes and inflated prices that please no one by those at the top who reap a profit.”

Yes, the NSW Government has done a comprehensive job of circumventing all established mandatory legislative requirements, safety and accountability benchmarks, and providing safe living environments and affordable housing for its residents. Paradoxically, Dominic Perrottet concluded by saying: “I think we (the government) very much have a role in ensuring that the public are safe and things like health and safety are considered. These are paramount. Even the freest of markets requires some regulation to function.”

Wondering if Dominic Perrottet knows that Airbnb is not accredited by the North American Better Business Bureau? Perhaps he’s now too busy to read the appalling reviews to discover why.

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


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