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To the Hon Anthony Roberts, MA (Comms) MP

Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes

Dear Minister

In April 2021 your predecessor, Rob Stokes MP, used ministerial discretion and altered the State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] – ‘(Affordable Rental Housing) Amendment (Short-term Rental Accommodation)’. The ‘aim’? Well, “to support short-term rental accommodation as a home sharing activity”. This use of ministerial discretion and changes to the SEPP were despite the fact that you yourself had signed off on a document saying:

“In 2014 there were an estimated 216,000 short-term holiday letting premises in NSW/ACT.” And “the number of listings via online platforms is more than doubling each year between 2011-2015, and most online listings are managed directly by the owner of the dwelling rather than an estate agent.”

None of your senior administrators in the NSW Department of Planning will provide an update on the number of homes now lost to commercial operations.

The SEPP states: “The use of a dwelling for the purposes of short-term rental accommodation must otherwise be lawful.”

Minister, Planning is issuing licenses for the operation of ‘short-term rental accommodation’, where that use is most definitely unlawful. For example:

PID-STRA-29649: The Den of the Treehouse, Kinabalu Farm, Skyline Road, The Pocket NSW 2483. This ‘treehouse’ structure does NOT have Development Approvalone understands the structure is an ‘unlawful’ construction. The property is listed on multiple platforms under titles such as Kyoto Mountain Lodge of the Treehouse – or The Treepod of the Treehouse etc. We can see it on platforms such as,Riparide, Tripadvisor, Greengetaways, Bedandbreakfasteu, Ahotelcom, Rentbyowner, Sniffhotels, Wanderam, Makemytripcom,Northernriversaccommodation, Hotelandplace, Gitesfr, Viamichelin, Snaptravel, Skyscanner, Holidaycheckde, Directhotels, Agoda,Accommodationsydneynetau, Vacationhomerent, Cozycozycomuk, Accommodationnswcom, Petfriendlyio, Travelmythie,Yambaaccommodationcom, Roadmapcom, Lugaresquevercom, Flipkeycom, Hicheecom, Placeandseecom, Mytripcom, Tianxuncom,Sitesavisitercom, Allbookedcom, Hyggehouscom and Bedroomvillascomau. Oh, and Stayz. The property was featured in an October 2021 article in the Daily Mail UK – all, despite being an uncertified structure, fully approved by your Department.

By the way ,Minister, that licence number – STRA PID-29649 - issued by your Department of Planning, also takes one to an Art Deco 2-Bed Apartment at 4/52A Premier Street, Neutral Bay. How is this so?

PID-STRA-33846: Deluxe suite in Circular Quay, 601/38-42 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW 2000. This property – available via Airbnb and Trivago– also has return clients booking directly, without going through an online platform. The commercial rental of this apartment is classified by the City of Sydney Council (AS 2101841) as an “Illegal Use of Premises” – NSW Land & Environment Court Orders with Penal Notice Case number 14/40923 Class 4 – Determination of Development Application Z96-00542 – Certificate of Classification B-00336.

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Minister, asking for a friend: How can such ‘unlawful’ operations be permitted and sanctioned by our State and by your Department? And how are we supposed to have any faith in our State Government and Local Governments’ management of land and all residents’ fundamental right to housing? Please: It is time to STOP calling this activity ‘home sharing’. These are no longer homes; no one lives in them. They are properties that are enriching investors.

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