WHAT’S NSW PLANNING HIDING… And DARYL’S OUTBACK AIRBNB SHACKS, GLADYS & ICAC
In case you missed it, the SMH is running the story: The outback Airbnb shack, the dirt highway and Daryl Maguire’s meeting with (Premier) Gladys Berejiklian. Former State MP Maguire was reportedly snapping up properties for bargain prices ($8,000 and then $750 were quoted) and was then heard telling Ms Berejiklian about plans to turn the derelict shacks into Airbnb rentals. “…phone intercept was played as part of ICAC’s Operation Keppel, which is investigating Mr Maguire for secretly using his position as an MP to tout for business with property developers…The revelation raises questions about why the meeting took place given the highway did not relate to Mr Maguire’s constituency and why he required Ms Berejiklian’s input as Treasurer.” We’ve repeatedly asked the Premier and Ministers of State Parliament exactly how many MPs are profiting from illegal short-term rentals; our questions remain unanswered.
And we and others have in the past often referred to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s (DPIE) September 2019 Proposed short-term rental accommodation ‘reforms’, and the fact that, as late as last month, a link to submissions was finally published, but many known submissions were not visible - among them that of Fire and Rescue NSW.
Thanks to a third party, we have recently been provided with another 3,571-page document – it is impossible to operate quick and accurate search and find fields – and some very important Submissions* to the DPIE have been retrieved. Firstly, and very importantly among them, a report signed by Jeremy Fewtrell, Acting Commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW. In terms of illegal short-term rentals, repeated references are made to National Construction Codes (NCC), essential fire safety features and standards, unacceptable risk to public safety, risk profiles, non-English speaking clientele, vulnerability of building occupants, a lack of local knowledge, egress and potential fire sources, emergency procedures, occupancy limits, fire safety equipment and alarms, minimum technical requirements, impact on neighbours’ amenity, government’s proposals akin to ‘Private Certification’ in the building industry and failure to ensure community safety, etc. The report goes on to say: “The consequences of absent or inadequate fire safety systems have proven to be catastrophic…” In closing, Fire and Rescue NSW acknowledged the Tasmanian Fire Service and National Council for fire and emergency services for the material used in the preparation of their submission.
We have also been able to source submissions from Council for the City of Sydney, and The University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning’s Professors Nicole Gurran and Peter Phibbs. And having found a ‘cover sheet’ only for Independent State MP for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper, and knowing that Greg Piper’s comments regarding illegal short-term rentals have often been captured on Parliament’s Hansard record, we contacted the Member’s office and can also provide a copy of his submission to the DPIE. Also located was a copy of journalist and Flat Chat host Jimmy Thomson’s ‘observations on the new holiday letting regulations’.
Amongst the thousands of pages submitted to the DPIE, most come from either Airbnb, Stayz and/or Australian Short-Term Rental Association (ASTRA) landlords. Page after page after page after page one finds written either:-
Airbnb landlords: “As a local Airbnb host I wanted to provide my feedback on the Government’s proposed regulations...I host on Airbnb because...pay mortgage and bills…share space…part of communities…rules will make it harder and more expensive…I oppose…development permits…red tape…costly alterations…lighting systems…if my home is safe for me and my family...it’s safe for (clients)…oppose property register…We want to work with (Government)…don’t want severe home sharing rules, complicated planning requirements, expensive or complex registration systems.”
Stayz/ASTRA landlords: “Short-term rental accommodation is an important driver of economic growth and job creation for the NSW tourism industry…As a result, regulation for our sector should avoid unnecessary burdens on our operations. As a responsible operator…I oppose night limits and use restrictions…and deprive…income…as holiday rentals like mine become more important…economy…strongly believe…Government should ensure the sector…reach economic potential.”
We were also able to source a copy of ASTRA’s 24-page submission, sent one week after the submission deadline. ASTRA Chair Rob Jeffress appears to have omitted the fact that unauthorised short-term use of Class 1(a) and Class 2 (NCC) dwellings are an “illegal use of premises”, as acknowledged by one of his cohort, Trevor Atherton (HRIA) to a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.
On page 2,976 of the document we found the ‘cover sheet’ for our Neighbours Not Strangers submission. The submission itself appears to have been suppressed. In our submission we drew on National Construction Codes and Federal Disability Access legislation, Coronial reports, NSW Land and Environment Court case law judgments, the Law Society of NSW, a Tasmanian Fire Service submission to the Tasmanian Parliament, plus data from Inside Airbnb (which has recently been updated for Sydney), etc. We also provided details of extensive connections between staff working for short-term rental platforms and Members of Federal and State Parliaments and Local Government officers. None of this can be found on the DPIE’s website or in their document.
The NSW Department of Planning wishes to alter the State Environmental Planning Policy. Another resident wrote in their submission:
“The proposed policy overrides other legislation that supports residents. Clause 7 (1) In the event of an inconsistency between this Policy and another environmental planning instrument, whether made before or after this Policy, this Policy prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.
The law supports residents ‐ NSW Land and Environment Court has analysed case law on the definitions of "residential accommodation”, “residential building”, “residential flat building”, “domicile” and “flats”, and concluded that there must be “an element of permanence or residence for a considerable time, or having the character of a person’s settled or usual abode” in order to constitute “residential buildings”.”
We ask that the Minister for Planning Rob Stokes, and those in his Department, to respect our proprietary rights, the need for safe, secure, affordable housing and the rights of accredited accommodation providers – which includes those operating certified, staffed Bed & Breakfast establishments in single-family freestanding dwellings.
*Submissions referred to can be provided - email firstname.lastname@example.org
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits
Neighbours not Strangers