“NO PENALTIES DISHED OUT FOR AIRBNB CAP BREAKERS”
We remember very well the former NSW Minister for Fair Trading Matt Kean approaching us, requesting examples of “collusion” between agents and online booking platforms. Our response was that, in terms of numbers, perhaps the NSW State Government’s DestinationNSW was the biggest offender. DestinationNSW still continues to promote on an almost daily basis select Airbnb Rentals; there is no disclosure as to why certain landlords’ properties are selected for free publicity grace of our State Government and taxpayers. Example: 20 July, on DestinationNSW’s social media page, ‘Visit NSW’:
“A little self-care tip, put on your Spotify relaxation mix and find a moment of stillness with a stay at Wattlewood cabin in The Tweed, a tiny house with extraordinary views of nature…”
This Wattlewood Airbnb is a ‘toy home’ listed at $790.23 for a minimum two-night stay. And according to Tweed Shire Council’s DA Tracker, there appears to be no Development Approval for this structure. Why would our State Tourism body ever be interested in compliance and safety issues?
In 2021 the NSW Government also announced new state-wide Fire Safety Standards for short-term holiday rentals stating: “Guests in STRA experience greater risks than permanent residents in respect of fire safety, owing to their lack of familiarity with the dwelling.”
Multiple reports from Coroners were provided by us to the NSW Department of Planning. State legislation was nonetheless altered to allow every home to operate as a commercial holiday rental. When questioned as to how Fire Safety Regulations were to be monitored/enforced, the Director, Housing Policy, Department of Fair Trading advised that it would be left to the “good will” of landlords to ensure that legislation is met.
It was the Blue Mountains Gazette (only) who reported on a fire at an Airbnb last weekend: “Holiday Fire Nightmare – husband and wife firefighters save girl from burning home.” A link to Fire + Rescue NSW’s report can be found here.
Airbnb is keen to see so-called ‘night caps’ implemented by governments; these effectively grant access to all housing for short-term rentals. Airbnb et al know very well that no ‘night-cap’ is enforceable. Former NSW State MPs Thomas George, John Williams and Kevin Humphries, prior to NSW Land and Environment Court Orders banning their “Illegal Use of Premises”, had their short-term rentals listed on 155+ online booking platforms.
As Jay Brinkmann, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research and Education at the Mortgage Bankers Association said: "Zoning Laws are only as good as the enforcement behind them. If you don't enforce, what's the good of having them on the books? It comes down to trust in Public Officials to enforce the laws...because if they won't enforce, they might as well not be there."
Alas, probably no truer statement could be offered, in terms of our NSW State Legislators and Public Servants.