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Remember the days when online booking platforms courted legislators with the concept of ‘Mums and Dads’ earning some extra cash by doing a bit of (commercial) ‘home sharing’?  While a still unknown number of NSW Federal and State MPs and Local Council Administrators rake in handsome profits from short-term rental properties and portfolios, there appears little need to continue with said smokescreen or spin.  NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s Dungowan Estate has an Airbnb booking calendar that indicates the property is fully booked throughout June, plus booked every weekend during July up to and including the first weekend of August.  It is not just this Queen’s Birthday long weekend that falls into what Barilaro was hoping for – most of the bookings at Dungowan Estate are long weekends - worth $5,550 each weekend in the Deputy Premier’s purse.  More good news for ‘Barra’ – up to 20 people may now attend weddings…another of the Deputy Premier’s side hustles at Dungowan Estate.

One well-known Strata commentator appears to have just learned that the NSW Government’s DestinationNSW is promoting ‘Sydney residential flats’ as short-term rentals.  Neighbours Not Strangers was asked back in December 2017 by then Minister responsible for Fair Trading - Matt Kean - to provide examples of agents “colluding with online booking platforms”.  Two and a half years ago we nominated DestinationNSW as the biggest offender.  In March of this year Waverley Council’s Building Compliance Staff advised that Notices had been issued to some property owners to stop using their dwellings as short-term tourist/visit accommodation; they sought our assistance in identifying the actual addresses of other short-term rental properties.  Popping up immediately today on DestinationNSW’s Visit Sydney site is one of the properties alleged to be operating in breach of Council zoning.

Weekenda CEO Pete Smith has 116 homes listed on Airbnb, and claims he manages more than 130 homes in the Hunter Valley.  All are reportedly ‘sold out’ this weekend.  Smith adds that “in the past 10 days of May we booked as much revenue as we did in the whole of May 2019” while June revenue is said to be currently tracking 250% ahead of the same period last year.

Airbnb claims it doesn’t affect the housing market.  Two days ago, an editorial in The Mercury Newspaper:  “Tasmania has become a renter’s paradise since COVID-19 travel ban.  Of course, there is an obvious reason for this.  The banning of interstate and international travel into Tasmania has caused the Airbnb market to collapse.”  This prompted the Tasmanian Greens to call for proper regulation of Airbnb.

An Airbnb advertisement promoting Australian country pubs has won the Grand Prix award for WARC’s annual Effective Use of Brand Purpose. As we reported last year, following a visit by Airbnb to Minister Stuart Ayres on 05 June 2019, the Minister threw his support behind Airbnb.  The Australian Financial Review’s John Davidson wrote of the operation:

“If you want to be a successful parasite, you should be careful not to kill your host too quickly…The irony won’t be lost on publicans.  By helping residents in and around these towns rent out their own homes to tourists, in competition with the very hotels it’s promising to renovate, Airbnb has contributed to the decline that it’s now bemoaning.  The Country pub Project, in effect, amounts to this:  if you can’t beat us, join us!”

With travel restrictions easing, it’s time to support our accredited accommodation providers.  At the same time, please respect the proprietary rights of those who live in residential buildings and residential communities.  Responsible tourism does not include the penetration of residents’ buildings and neighbourhoods. 

And why is it that Members of Parliament still refuse to say whether or not any of the homes in their property portfolios are rented via short-term rental platforms?

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


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