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Yes we have a pandemic, yet irrespective of this, “rental vacancy rates hit zero in Australian coastal towns as they hit COVID capacity”,according to the ABC, and “it has created a nightmare for some renters… The situation is, of course, great for landlords who can rent out their homes easily and sell houses at high prices. But it has also created a situation where some renters are giving up hope.” And while our NSW North Coast has been negatively affected by Brisbane’s COVID lockdown, Colin Hussey (A Perfect Stay) still has 164 homes in the Byron Area listed on Airbnb. Mr Hussey told the ABC his business has been “running at 90 per cent plus occupancy since the end of August, which I suppose is a 'good problem' but a little break would be nice". We have been assured that the hearts of Byron residents whose homes abut Mr Hussey’s short-term rentals are certainly not bleeding for him. And it would seem that ABC reporters do not cross check data, leaving ongoing important issues and the negative impacts due commercial Airbnb-type rentals unanswered and unchallenged.

Media reports from the US have Trump Insurrectionists staying at Airbnbs, much to neighbours’ distress. Before the rally, “downtown Washington hotels and bars – some know to be popular meet-up points for the Proud Boys and Trump supporters – announced they would close for several days.” With Airbnb’s ‘instant booking = zero verification’ tool, protestors flooded in: “insurrectionists still came in droves”. One Airbnb landlord stated: “As much as we despise what they stand for and despite peoples’ belief on here that we should evict them…that is not how Airbnb works…We spoke with Airbnb and without them breaking any rules, we have no grounds for removing them.” Airbnb declined a request for an interview.

On Airbnb’s Australian website the company states: ‘We're working with governments around the world to clarify these rules so that everyone has a clear understanding of what the laws are. In some tax jurisdictions, Airbnb will take care of calculating, collecting and remitting local occupancy tax on your behalf.’ Airbnb, Stayz and others have given assurances to work on NSW legislative requirements – to date, the deliberate circumvention of legislation has been the modus operandi of such platforms. In Toronto Canada, from 01 January, short-term rental platforms must only show listings that are licensed. According to Inside Airbnb, so far the compliance rate for entire apartments on Airbnb in Toronto is a mere 4.7% - 95% of listings are illegal. Airbnb have had years to prepare for this regulation which makes them explicitly liable in Toronto, but have chosen to ignore the law and continue to profit from illegal activity on their platform.”

ASTRA Board Member Joan Bird wrote this week – incorrectly in our opinion - to one Airbnb landlord: “The (Short-Term Rental) code of conduct and the dept of planning changes (to the State Environment Planning Policy covering residential housing) whilst intertwined are two different things…Love it when a council officer makes an arbitrary decision – its (sic) quite clear that you do not want to operate an (sic) B&B – they’re grasping at straws…Unless it is clearly stated in your LGA DCP that holiday or short term rentals require DA approval you can go ahead…There are many LGA’s (sic) in this quandary at the moment, they don’t quite know what to do with our industry.”

This week Vancouver residents and legislators and friends elsewhere are mourning the sudden death of housing advocate Ulrike Rodrigues. Posting under the Twitter handle Miteymiss, and coming to the attention of NSW trolls targeting our ‘Neighbours Not Strangers’ group, “Rodrigues, who founded the ‘Homes not Hotels’ movement in Vancouver, advocated for stronger regulation and more effective enforcement of short-term rentals in a city gripped by a housing crisis.” In 2019, Ulrike Rodrigues compiled a comprehensive report to Vancouver City Council citing 47 gaps in the short-term regulation bylaws that allowed illegal short-term rental operators to carry on with business as usual. She made 12 recommendations to address those gaps in the short-term rental regulator framework, including a more meaningful memorandum of understanding with Airbnb. “I love to travel, but I also love my home,” Rodrigues said. “And I hate what Airbnb is doing to homes around the world.” Rodrigues and her neighbours celebrated a victory in 2020 when the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal ordered her neighbouring short-term rental operator to stop using apartments in their building as tourist accommodation. Rodrigues willed her apartment to Atira Women’s Resource Society to be used as furnished housing, and her savings to create an endowment fund called Basic Needs + Mitey Deeds – a legacy fund to connect women and girls to shelter, support, and potential. Ulrike was a close friend, successful advocate and a great supporter of ours; Ulrike will be greatly missed.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers


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