NO PLACE TO CALL HOME
On 15 September we wrote to the Minister for Planning and Homes, the Hon Anthony Roberts MP, and asked why his Department of Planning was sanctioning and issuing licenses where commercial short-term rentals involved the use of an uncertified structure, and when such activity was banned under NSW Land and Environment Court Orders and Penal Notice. We had also asked for details of any/all enforcement action enacted, where the operators have exceeded a 180-night cap per year, as legislated for the Sydney Metropolitan and several other NSW regional areas. No acknowledgement or response has been received from the Minister or his Department.
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SYDNEY MORNING HERALD – AIRBNB OWNERS TARGETED BY COUNCIL TO TACKLE SYDNEY’S HOUSING CRISIS Eacham Curry, Senior Director, Government and Corporate Affairs at Expedia/Stayz, made a Freudian but revealing slip when responding to Sydney Morning Herald Reporter Andrew Taylor. When advised a Randwick Councillor wants higher council rates on Airbnb properties in an attempt to tackle our housing crisis, Curry reportedly said, “council should consider a rate cut for owners of short-term rental accommodation properties to reflect that they are only to be let for 180 nights and are less of an imposition on council services”. Of course, any proposed 180-night cap is supposed to ensure short-term rental properties are not rented to travellers full-time, and other times are inhabited by local, permanent residents. By his own admission, Curry reveals these homes are considered full-time tourist/visitor rentals. From an economic viewpoint, any lowering of rates for short-term rental dwelling would further incentivise Airbnb landlords, beyond the extra revenue they earn from renting housing to transients, instead of residents.
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UNDER COVER – OLDER WOMEN TELL THEIR STORIES OF BECOMING HOMELESS The Australian documentary Under Cover, premiering at the Melbourne Film Festival, presents the voices and faces of older women’s housing insecurity. A preview of the film can be found HERE.
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ABC FOUR CORNERS INVESTIGATION – HOMELESSNESS
On Monday evening, ABC Four Corners broadcast No Place To Call Home: The new face of homelessness in Australia. The program attracted widespread comment. It can be viewed on iView: http://ab.co/3jvWVHK or on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yk4eWjYVNYg. The ABC team, headed by Louise Milligan, Ali Russell, Charlotte King and Andy Burns, reported on regional areas like the Coffs Coast, where people working in low- to middle-income jobs such as hospitality, retail, nursing and aged care could reasonably expect to find a home. Not anymore.
First National Coffs Harbour Property Manager, Lisa Hanlan, assisted Four Corners with their investigations into the lack of affordable rentals. The agency currently has eight properties available for residential tenancies: $395-$750/week. Hanlan is ‘horrified about the number of people she has to turn away every time she lists a rental property’:
“They are really struggling,” she says. “Real people apply for rental properties – they may have good references, they may have income, but they are rejected. We’ve found that we have doctors, nurses and other professions coming into town looking for housing to secure their new jobs here. If they couldn’t find housing, they often had to miss this opportunity.”
By way of a comparison, here is a very small snapshot of other agents in the surrounding area we have put together and their holiday rental profiles:
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‘TENT CITY’ IN AFFLUENT SYDNEY SUBURB UP IN FLAMES
In Brad Hazzard’s affluent Sydney suburb of Dee Why, Police yesterday arrested two homeless men and disbanded their camp. Footage of the arrest can be seen HERE. “While a few (locals) aired their frustrations with the alleged arson attack and the ‘tent city’ more broadly, the majority believed it was a symptom of the economic climate.”
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AUSTRALIAN SHORT TERM RENTAL ASSOCIATION (ASTRA)
ASTRA’s Here To Stay 2022 Conference at the Gold Coast kicks off next Monday, 10 October. The two-day conference pass (excluding accommodation) comes at a price of $699 (including Cocktail Gala). Sponsors include, amongst others, Booking.com. ASTRA’s message to conference attendees: “Making use of flexible strategies when it comes to your length of stay pricing can be one of the big revenue drivers for your business when you have the right mindset.”
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CASHED UP ASTRA LANDLORDS UP THEIR MEDIA PRESSURE ON BYRON MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS
A second full-page advertisement appeared in yesterday’s Byron Echo (page 9). (See also our lead photograph.)
Today, the group calling itself Byron Deserves Better, have 'found' themselves featured in a long article in Smart Property Investment. It would appear they have paid Tourism Research Australia to conduct a survey on their behalf that shows the 90-day limit proposed on short-term rentals “would hurt the local economy by $267 million per year”. According to their ‘research’, there are supposed to be less than 1,200 homes on STRA platforms in Byron Shire, and they predict that less than 10 percent of those homes are expected to enter the permanent housing market.
TripADeal co-found Norm Black said: “Being one of the biggest employees in town, we have a clear perspective on this issue.” Back in September 2020, the Australian Financial Review reported that TripADeal had sold a 55 per cent stake to BGH Capital. And in May this year, ‘Qantas buys stake in Byron Bay travel website’: “The deal comes (sic) has options to buy the rest of the TripADeal business in four years from other shareholders, including the founder Norm Black." Hundreds of millions of dollars are discussed in both articles.
Also quoted in the article is spokeswoman for Byron Deserves Better, Sarah Workman, who describes Byron Council’s plan as “embarrassingly flawed”. There is no mention that Workman is a former Byron Shire Council staffer, or that she now works as strategy manager for Byron-based A Perfect Stay (265 holiday rentals).
“The owner and manager of a number of holiday cottages in the Byron area, Grant Moffitt, sees short-term lodging as important to the market and visitor economy.” His other organisations reportedly include: Grab Industries, Microhire, Corporate Locksmiths and Kimberley Discovery cruises. Moffitt’s ‘cottages’ include:
Portraying themselves as representing the entire Byron community in a battle against Council, Byron Deserves Better sees the Byron Echo always referring to this group for what they are: A business group.
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ANONYMOUS SHORT-TERM RENTAL SUPPORTER TAKES ON GEOGRAPHER, PLANNER AND SOCIAL ECONOMIST
In a recent Twitter post, a nameless short-term rental operator tagged and challenged Professors Nicole Gurran and Peter Phibbs: "Serious question, just curious if any data/research shows other effects on housing?"
Given in 2014 the State Government reported that NSW/ACT had already lost 216,000 homes to short-term rentals, the Airbnb landlord wanted to know what impact Doctors and Vets were having on housing. We’ve singled out Peter Phibbs’ response: “Good for (the) resident if they have a dog and bad teeth. On a more serious note I am not aware of much research ... I’ll have a look. The point I would make is what the relative loss of rental housing would be from the conversion into business versus STRs.”
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BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL – DOB IN AN AIRBNB LANDLORD
Homeowners have been officially asked to dob in a neighbour who is running short-stay accommodation, as the city’s rental crisis deepens. Word has been circulated via Council’s website, the ABC, Domain, Gold Coast Bulletin, Townsville Bulletin, Government News, The Courier Mail, The Australian, The Global Herald…