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NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen took to social media today: “We’ve just hired NSW’s first rental commissioner. She’ll work with us to reform the rental market, investigating affordability and supply, allowing longer term rentals and making transferable bonds happen. Its (sic) important work that’ll make renting fairer for everyone…We can’t fix the rental crisis overnight, but this is a big start, and we’re determined to do more. You can read more about this important announcement here. (Link to ABC news article provided)”. Minister Haylen did not mention her $6,550.52 (discounted rate) per week Airbnb “hosted by Williams Family” – a reference to her husband PwC Partner, Garth Williams.

NSW GREENS MCL Cate Faehrmann, recently moved an Upper House motion calling on the NSW State Government to regulate Airbnbs. The Motion passed, 19 votes to 17. Pauline Hansons’s One Nation Rod Roberts MLC advised that they would not support the motion: "Australia is not a socialist state and nor is New South Wales. Governments should not be dictating to people what they can and cannot do with their assets. Restricting short-term accommodation will do nothing but impact severely upon our tourist..."

In her address to Parliament, Cate Faehrmann noted “data released by the Department of Planning to The Guardian Australia dated at 31 December 2022…the number of properties listed as short-term rental accommodation [STRA] across New South Wales has surged by 42 per cent or 13,000 properties since December 2021 to 45,029 short-term rentals with the number of “non-hosted” STRA properties increasing from 20,999 in December 2021 to 29,289…” Cate Faehrmann relied on one State Government Department’s figures. This same Department - the NSW Government’s Department of Planning – appears to have recently pulled from the internet its 2017 Short-term Holiday letting in NSW ‘Options Paper’ – which quoted: “In 2014, there were an estimated 216,000 STHL premises in NSW/ACT. The number of listings via online platforms is more than doubling each year between 2011-2015…” One can still see a copy of this Options Paper HERE.

A quick look at Airbnb listings for Sydney alone shows that, as at 06 June 2023, only 52.7% of the 23,451 Airbnb listings are registered (InsideAirbnb). And the smallest of snapshots undertaken by us in April 2022 showed just 136 NSW property agents with 42,532 homes listed as holiday rentals, while at the same time those 136 agents advertised only 259 homes for residential tenancies.

In July 2015 NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker moved that a Committee inquire into and report on the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW. Following sustained lobbying from the Short-Term Rental Industry, former NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes, in April 2021, used ministerial discretion to single-handedly alter the State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP], making the use of all residential dwellings as commercial hotels ‘exempt’ and/or ‘complying development’.

The Rob Stokes’ SEPP must be rescinded.

Borrowing from Law Firm ClaytonUtz: The NSW State Government must continue to investigate how councils can be mandated to enforce residential planning, zoning or approval to prevent the short-term commercial letting of residential housing. The proliferation of non-certified Airbnb-type rentals is a huge problem for housing supply and affordability, legitimate tourism accommodation providers, plus contempt for the proprietary rights of neighbouring residents. There remains insufficient scrutiny of this damaging operation.


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