WHEN NSW STATE MINISTERS EVADE CASE LAW…
On 27 October 2020, NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson issued a Media release. The Minister correctly labelled the commercial use of residential housing an ‘Industry’ that has “exploded in recent years”. The Minister also claimed the sector is now worth “$30 billion a year…that has gone from strength to strength”. The purpose of the Media release was to announce “strict new laws to regulate short-term rentals”. A (replacement) Code of Conduct will come into force on 18 December. “We have all heard the horror stories of hosts doing the wrong thing or the house guests from hell behaving disgracefully in holiday rentals,” Mr Anderson said. Yes Minister. Yes.
In an ABC article, Byron Bay resident Michelle Pullen says, “party crowds are a constant problem. I like people to have a good time, but this is a residential area with people going to school and going to work and trying to live normal lives.” In reply, Minister Anderson reportedly said, “If you are going to have a party, pick a region where you can do that. Don’t pick a beautiful, quiet area thinking that at 2am you can fire up”. Kevin Anderson also told the ABC:
“Measures would be taken to ensure complaints were legitimate before penalties were imposed. Vexatious complainants will go through checks and balances…We know some people just don’t like having short-term holiday rentals next door to them.”
Along with NSW Planning Rob Stokes, Minister Anderson has been repeatedly directed to and continues to ignore NSW Supreme Court case law Raciti v Hughes where the plaintiffs obtained an interim injunction against an adjoining neighbour to prevent the operation of video surveillance equipment. The action was framed in ‘nuisance’. Those seeking Orders under the State Government’s replacement Code of Conduct will no doubt be hit with such a counter claim of ‘vexatious claimant’ and ‘nuisance’.
When a chance street encounter immediately prior to Minister Anderson’s Media release allowed the briefest of exchanges, the Minister threw at us the option of introducing a strata by-law restricting some – not all – short-term rentals. A nearby Strata scheme, chaired by a former National Party colleague of Minister Anderson, has this week produced the Agenda of their Annual General Meeting. Omitted is a Motion put forward by one Lot Owner that sets out such a by-law. Said by-law, borrowed from another nearby strata scheme, is registered in NSW. Asked why the Motion has been omitted from the Agenda, where the strata chair and cohort had their apartments snared in NSW Land & Environment Court Orders banning their “Illegal Use of Premises”, the response: “‘legal advice’ deems the motion unlawful.”
Byron Bay Residents Group VOHL advises neighbours of holiday rentals to contact local police when there is offensive noise or other damage to their residential amenity. “Next morning, contact the police again and ask for information about what was done, request a CAD (computer aided dispatch) report number and report this information to Council enforcement.” According to VOHL, this is the best form of evidence to lodge a complaint about so-called host/guests to the secretariat that will administer the Code of Conduct.
We are yet to find one NSW State MP who will stand with residents against short-term holiday rentals. NSW Ministers, Members of Parliament, DestinationNSW and other official branches of State Government, ignore Federal legislation and are supportive of what is, in most areas of NSW, the “Illegal Use of Premises”.
Minister Anderson still fails to respond to meeting requests. Will NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes respect case law, and what plans has he for our homes and residential communities?
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits
Neighbours not Strangers