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Eurobodalla Mayor, Mathew Hatcher, has written to a total of about 8,000 non-resident ratepayers, urging them to consider renting their homes in his local government area to those needing housing. “About 4,000 homes in the Eurobodalla Shire…are owned by Sydney residents. A further 3,500 are owned by Canberrans, 280 are owned by Victorians and several hundred more are owned by people who live elsewhere interstate or overseas. We can’t wait for homes to be built. We need to address the lack of rental properties in our community right now,” says the mayor. Mr Hatcher spoke to ABC Radio Canberra's Lish Fejer about why he wants residents with a vacant holiday home to allow a long-term tenant in. You can listen to the interview by clicking HERE. Narooma/Moruya real estate agent Samantha Sheather told the ABC there were hardly any properties on the market right now for renters. Her agency, Clearwater Real Estate, currently has one property only available for rent: a 3-bedroom house at $600/week. And at last count, AirDNA showed 1,114 Active Airbnb Rentals for Eurobodalla.

In response to the Mayor’s desperate plea, owner of Narooma-based Whale Coast Realty John Murray told the Illawarra Mercury the majority of the short-term holiday rentals listed through his business were owned by families who like to use the houses themselves. "The whole reason they have them is to use them. They own it for a reason," he said. Murray went on to say only 10 to 15 percent of houses listed through Whale Coast Realty were purely generating income for the owners, and the other 85 to 90 per cent were rented to cover costs associated with maintaining the family weekender.

“Mr Murray said all 140 properties Whale Coast Realty listed were always full during peak holiday times, such as Christmas, Easter and during the Narooma Oyster Festival. Removing short-term rentals from the market would reduce supply available for tourists.” (We can see advertised 121 homes listed as holiday rentals on Whale Coast Realty’s site, of which, 116 homes are listed on Airbnb.)

In response to Mathew Hatcher’s letter to ratepayers, John Murray says the request “does not align with the reason people purchased the property”.

According to Domain, John Murray has sold 67 properties in the last 12 months…total sales valued at $60.7 million. (The Agent’s Commission on this $60.7 million in sales is not listed.):-

“John Murray sold 40 houses, 8 apartments and 19 blocks of land or rural properties.”

Not only are short-term rentals more lucrative for investors in residential housing; holiday rentals provide higher nightly fees for agents - as opposed to weekly rentals – plus management fees are charged at a much higher level. Whale Coast Realty fees include, but are not limited to:

Residential Tenancies - Management Fee: 8% of week rent + GST

Holiday Rentals – Management Fee: $15% + GST of monies received. Professional Photography & Floorplan: Up to $400 + GST

As well as their own website, Whale Coast Realty advertises their Holiday Rentals on Airbnb,, and HomeAwayAu/Stayz.

Given most agents’ long careers in Real Estate, one assumes they are aware of the difference between residential and commercial Building Types, as well as National Building Codes, Disability Access legislation, Occupation Certificates, Residential Zoning, etc. Some of the residential dwellings recently sold by John Murray’s Whale Coast Realty include the following:

3 Inlet Place, North Narooma – Building Type: House. Lot/Plan: 1DP250055

31 Warbler Crescent, North Narooma – Building Type: House. Lot/Plan: 34/DP262540

19 Princes Highway, North Narooma – Building Type: House. Lot/Plan 122/DP752162

A sample of housing availability through other nearby Real Estate Agents include:

In terms of a Real Estate Agent’s use of residential property for commercial short-term rentals, the response from a former Minister of Fair Trading to questions in the NSW Parliament was as follows:

Real estate agents are generally responsible for arranging leases…and are licensed under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002. The Office of Fair Trading would examine any improper or questionable actions undertaken by a real estate agent, including actions that would be in breach of the consumer protection provisions of that Act or the strata or tenancy legislation. 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.

Of course, NSW Fair Trading is known to be currently issuing short-term rental licenses when such action is an established “Illegal Use of Premises” and where such commercial activity is in breach of NSW Land and Environment Court Orders with Penal Notice.

Minister Rob Stokes’ November 2021 changes to the State Environment Planning Policy [SEPP] also render limp Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher’s plea that residential housing be used to house the residents in his area.

- - - -

NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts MP, must immediately rescind Rob Stokes' Affordable Rental Housing (Short-term Rental Accommodation) 2021 SEPP.

Local Councils must be mandated to enforce residential planning, zoning or approval to prevent short-term commercial letting of housing. The proliferation of these properties is a huge problem for housing affordability and availability, for the living conditions of neighbouring residents and for legitimate tourism accommodation providers.

The NSW Government must refer Airbnb, DestinationNSW and other online platforms to the ACCC, when and where the platform/s are aiding and abetting the “Illegal Use of Residential Dwellings”.


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