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Queensland CHO Jeanette Young confirmed at press meeting two days ago: “We saw it with that party down at Byron Bay, those 11 people, they were in an Airbnb, so a private residence, and now all of them, virtually all of them, have become infected (with COVID-19).”

Neighbours Not Strangers telephoned and twice wrote to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, asking for confirmation of the address of the Airbnb property where all infected holidaymakers stayed. Twenty-seven ‘NSW COVID-19 case locations’ are still listed on the NSW Government’s website, including communal toilets at the Suffolk Beachfront, however there is zero mention of the (Suffolk Park) Airbnbwhere all 11 confirmed Covid-19 cases stayed.

The Airbnb at 1/82 Alcorn Street, Suffolk Park is one or two Units. Neighbours write that they passed this property several times over the weekend concerned when the bachelorette party was ‘in house’ and noticed the large number of women getting into and out of cars over the weekend. They also write that the holiday let is “notorious for allowing parties”.

The NSW Parliament’s ‘webcam’ site is currentlyundergoing migrationand is not available. A pity, given that the exchange that took place on 5 February 2021 between Labor’s Shadow Minister for the Gig Economy Daniel Mookhel (who doesn’t have a single pecuniary interest to declare to Parliament – not a one) and Kevin Anderson MP whose ministerial portfolio covers Fair Trading, might certainly make for interesting viewing. Minister Anderson’s social media profile would indicate a great passion racing/gambling, rather than the Fair Trading Amendment (Short-Term Rental Accommodation) Act, a so-called Code of Conduct and proposed changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP]. Despite claims from the Minister that he/his Department were “basically looking after those most vulnerable in our community”, Parliament’s objective is to give Airbnb-type rental operators access to every residential dwelling state-wide.

As Greg Piper MP (Member for Lake Macquarie) pointed out in his 2019 submission to Parliament (dcs.s19/10), the Code of Conduct “sets out that the Commissioner can record a strike ‘when a guest fails to comply with an obligation to a neighbour and the failure is not minor’…where a guest is found to have acted violently towards someone in a neighbour property”, that is the only example provided where a ‘strike’ will be recorded, and it will take three such violent ‘strikes’ against one engaged in short-term rentals before any real action will be triggered. Of course, as a defence, where a neighbour has been the recipient any three such violent attacks, the accused could, in line with NSW Supreme case law precedent, counter claim ‘nuisance’ against that neighbour. Anyone willing to risk three violent personal attacks against them?

The NSW Fair Trading Short-Term Rental Code of Conduct was implemented on 18 December 2020. Government MPs, via their questioning during Budget Estimates (read from page 27) and Minister Anderson’s farcical responses, show clear intent in allowing all homes to operate as commercial tourist/visitor rentals. As to the number of complaints so far recorded by the Department of Fair Trading, a question was taken on notice. In response, “there is no legislative requirement to report at the level of detail sought…the Department does not have this information…it would require significant resources…the diversion of resources cannot be supported…” (See photo.) No one in any position of authority really cares what destructive effects are being wrought across our State.

Fair Trading’s unworkable Code supposedly sets out ‘the rights and obligations of short-term rental accommodation industry participants’, while ignoring the proprietary rights of neighbouring residents and accredited accommodation providers. A ‘letting agent’ must inform an industry participant…before, or at the time, the participant enters into a short-term rental accommodation arrangement (details about) (a) this code, and (b) the obligation of all industry participants…to comply with this code. And, a letting agent ‘must ensure that a copy of this code is readily available to industry participants using the letting agent’s services’.

Byron Bay residents deeply concerned about the recent use of a neighbouring residential dwelling by the 11-strong ‘COVID-positive’ Party, write of one local agent with 274 illegal short-term rentals:

“Perfect Stay has not informed neighbours that the property that they are managing is an STRA. There is a requirement to contact all neighbours, including those bordering at the rear of the STRA. They have not been given contact details regarding the authorised representative, who must be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 7 days a week and 24/7 in case of emergencies (Regulation 2.4.9). Being given contact details means that it must be done in a written or verbal form for each neighbour. The sign outside each STRA that they manage which includes a phone number for contact 1300588277 appears to be advertising for their business.

If you try to ring the 1300 number during the required contact hours 8am to 5pm on a Sunday, the number listed on the advertising sign at the front of the STRA a recorded message states that the business was closed and was open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. A contact phone number was given in the message but it was for guests only.

A Perfect Stay subscribes to Quiet Time security service, which is available only during the night. If neighbours had contacted Quiet Time at 1 p.m on a Sunday nothing would have been done for five or more hours if at all, neighbours would not have had any damage to their residential amenity resolved in a “timely manner” (regulation 2.4.10). Legally, this means without delay.

There is a gap in A Perfect Stay current practices that works against the rights of neighbours in notifying issues at the STRA you manage that damage neighbourhood amenity. A Perfect Stay does list the obligations that guests must follow towards neighbours, on its website.

(We are) sure there are many other STRA in NSW that are not meeting their obligations to neighbours.”

NSW Residents have been denied the opportunity to speak at a parliamentary inquiry on short-term rentals, have had their multiple submissions on this topic either marked ‘confidential’ by Parliament or seen them go ‘unpublished’. As one Canadian community activist writes on such suppressive action: “Record destruction is a serious matter and I will be demanding a full and impartial inquiry. I will not be accepting “technical glitch” as an excuse.”

We are sick and tired of seeing our proprietary rights treated with contempt.

Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits Neighbours not Strangers


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