WHEN IT COMES TO SHORT-TERM RENTALS, WHY THE THREATS?
American vacation rental online operator, VRBO, based in Austin Texas and part of the Expedia Group, has emailed many of us, announcing its 2021 Stayz Holiday Home Award winners (and other finalists). In limp imitation of the Olympics:
Another NSW ‘finalist’:
And not to be outdone, Airbnb has just announced their ‘inaugural Australian Host Awards’. Their marketing team would appear savvier than VRBO/Stayz group, chasing still wider and greater media exposure. Categories spun include ‘Host of the Year’, ‘Designed Stay finalists’, ‘Unique Stay finalists’, ‘Regional Stay finalists’, ‘Community Contribution finalists’ and ‘Magical Experience finalists’: “from renovated barns to luxurious tents to one-of-a-kind Experiences”. Airbnb and Stayz skip around Federal Construction Codes, Zoning regulations, Fire and Rescue compliance, and of course the rights of neighbours and the needs of those seeking housing. Alas, mainstream media jumps on and willingly distributes any marketing material from these foreign corporations.
Our email of 16 June 2021 asked Ministers Rob Stokes and Police Minister David Elliott whether ‘policy’ had it that Airbnb and other short-term rental operators are not mentioned when NSW Police are attending to and reporting on criminal acts occurring at/in short-term rentals in residential buildings and areas. A 12 July from letter from NSW Planning, Industry & Environment replied: “The Department is not aware of any policy that prevents STRA from being mentioned in any Police or media matters.”
It took Queensland’s Townsville Bulletin to report on the “horrific gang attack” outside a Wattle Crescent Pyrmont apartment block, which hosted an Airbnb party. We understand that the Development Approval and by-laws in the residential strata building prohibit short-term rentals and it has been suggested that the victim might think to sue Airbnb, the Owners Corporation and Lot Owner for a breach of Duty of Care. Notably, the Daily Mail UK also picked up the Airbnb story.
Our 16 June Media Release gave examples of and links to the violent impacts of short-term rentals plus an article detailing how Airbnb is spending millions on payouts to silence the victims of crime. There was no feedback to the distribution of our information.
We continue to have posts to Facebook removed and official warnings issued. One must ask whether it is the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment or Planning Minister Rob Stokes who is lodging complaints against us. Maybe it is Airbnb/Stayz? Frankly, we are merely quoting State Government documents and legislation together with statements from Senior Counsels plus the likes of ClaytonUtz.
Others might write: “Is it time to clamp down on short-term rentals in the regions?” And: “Short-term rentals on platforms like Airbnb amplify housing shortage in urban areas.” And: “Shoalhaven rental vacancies at all time low, CWA calls for change during Awareness Week.” We in turn are threatened with being wiped from social media platform Facebook for providing links to stories, documents and legislation. Be very well advised that this group of community activists would be very angry to lose our 1,400+ followers on Facebook, as we have lost followers on Twitter due to our accounts being ‘suspended’ there.
#Right2Housing Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits Neighbours not Strangers