HOW A BOOT FULL OF LOO ROLLS HELPS AIRBNB GO ROUND
Last Sunday, ABC TV News: The rural town of Dalgety was featured – in written print also. A 20-minute drive from Jindabyne, Dalgety is losing essential services. The local public school, post office and its only café “all closed this year”. And Dr Hamish Steiner says Bombala’s only GP clinic may be forced to close this year. The ABC’s Kira Proust went on to add that many rural towns across Australia are dealing with similar challenges, but it appears the sense of community in these regions is the biggest reason why people choose to stay. At the same time, according to the ABC report, land value in Jindabyne went up by 100% last year - the highest increase in the State:
“It was unexpected. And regional areas are struggling with that a little bit
in terms of infrastructure, housing…”
That quote was from Real Estate Agent Joan Bird. And that was the extent of her appearance on the ABC’s segment. No reason was given as to why the ABC chose Bird for comment. Neither was there disclosure of Brid’s activities in the property market. Bird’s Agency – Alpine Country Properties, under rental properties for residential tenancies, lists: “Nothing found, please check back later.” According to domain.com.au, in the 12 month period to 30 August 2022, Alpine Country Properties has sold one residential dwelling - $1,580,000 – and leased three residential dwellings only. Meanwhile, Bird’s Snow Escape Holiday Accommodation site currently has 20 homes listed for short-term rentals. Bird’s Linkedin profilestates:
“In 2018 I was honoured to join the board of ASTRA (Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation Association). An independent association working towards furthering the interests, professionalism, standards and growth of the short-term rental accommodation industry. My particular focus has been the legislative changes in NSW surrounding the STRA industry. Working with government and industry bodies to ensure that STRA takes its rightful place in the accommodation sector.”
Two days ago, in a SMH article - The regional towns where holiday home listings have jumped, but rentals are scarce – Airbnb’s spokesperson for Australian/NZ Susan Wheeldon said: “While short-term rentals generally comprise a tiny proportion of the overall property market, we’re keen to keep finding ways that we can make a positive contribution to this important issue.” (Forget not: a 2017 Government Report said NSW/ACT had lost 216,000 homes to short-term holiday rentals.). Airbnb reportedly told the SMH journalist “these listings may be the owner’s primary residence, which they list on Airbnb while travelling to offset the cost of their holiday and are not necessarily homes that will be transferred to the long-term rental market”. There was no indication whether said Airbnb spokesperson choked after providing that statement. ‘Total available Airbnb listings’ in council areas were tabled. It showed 342 Airbnb listings for the Mornington Peninsula. One local resident who saw this article on our social media pages writes: “That article is fine but the data is so wrong. I have been using Airdna to keep track of how many short stays (there are in our area) for months now. InsideAirbnb is better. Airdna doesn’t give a total for the whole shire…it divides it into sections so if you don’t know the area well, it’s easy to get it wrong. In my township, Rye, there are over 900 Airbnbs!”
In Sydney’s Millers Point, at 73 Windmill Street, stands the heritage listed Stevens Terrace. Zoned “general residential”, the former NSW Department of Housing building, possibly the first walkup apartment block in Sydney, now comprises 11 separate dwellings. All 11 homes are listed on Airbnb by Zoja Miljevic, ‘Hospitality Manager’ HomeHost. All apartments list the same ‘Licence number’, issued by NSW Planning: PID-STRA-20637. Initial cost: $65. Licence renewal cost: $25/year. That will be $25/year to the NSW Government to turn 11 homes into Airbnb rentals.
HomeHost was started by Gabriel Sarajinsky; “proudly partnered with Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, Agoda”. The company’s listed contact address is a two-bedroom ‘leased’ apartment at 5/459 New South Head Road, Double Bay. The company offers a ‘Hybrid Rental Model’. Brief: where state government limits are imposed, HH suggests short-term rentals during peak holiday seasons, and offering long-term rents during tourist low seasons. In other words, tenants evicted after a three- or six-month residential lease and the home flipped back onto multiple short-term rental platforms. Under his name, Sarajinsky currently has 37 homes listed as short-term rentals. He appears on InsideAirbnb’s list of ‘Top Hosts’ for Sydney. Given that an unknown number of other HH staff may have properties assigned to them, it is unclear how many homes this one organisation has removed from our Sydney housing market.
A few blocks away from the Stevens Terrace in Millers Point, cues were forming at lunchtime yesterday to take a lift to inspect one residential apartment advertised for rent to tenants. Thirteen groups attended some few days ago, and another 15 groups went through yesterday. The Agent advises that a deposit and a weekly rental payment, over and above the asking price of $750/week for the one-bedroom apartment, was offered and has been accepted by the owner of the property.
Still nothing from legislators, in terms of addressing this loss of housing to short-term rental platforms.
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NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts MP, must immediately rescind Rob Stokes’ Affordable Rental Housing (Short-term Rental Accommodation) 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”.
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones #Right2Housing
People before Profits
Neighbours not Strangers