Short-term lets: ‘Sharing’ without caring

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This article first appeared in Flat Chat in Domain. Click here for links to discussions on the Flat Chat Forum

You may not have noticed, but a state parliament inquiry into short-term rentals is underway and you have a couple of weeks in which to submit your thoughts.

Even if you don’t, those hip and groovy charmers from online holiday rental agencies will be all over it, using buzzwords like “disruptive” and “sharing economy” and “collaborative consumption” to plead their case.

I’m pretty sure they will be less vocal on unfashionable words like responsibility, by-laws, levies, taxes, zoning and wear and tear.

Living in strata has enough problems without an agency like Airbnb coming along and helping owners and tenants to illegally let their entire flat to footy fans, bucks parties and boisterous families out for a good holiday.

Even worse, if anyone in the building complains, they’ll let the hosts know but after that it’s up to them, just as long as they get their commission. Cue sound of hands being washed.

Airbnb isn’t breaking any law that I know of but they are, without accepting any responsibility for the consequences, earning squillions out of making it easy for greedy, selfish apartment owners and tenants to disrupt the peaceful lives of their neighbours.

Letting entire houses is fine but a unit in a residential block means maximum pain for one person’s gain.

It would take agencies half a second to compile a register of unit blocks where short-term letting is clearly banned and apartments shouldn’t be listed.

Residential apartment blocks are people’s homes and if a different set of party animals and hyped-up holidaymakers was traipsing through yours every weekend, you’d have something to say about it.

I love the concept of Airbnb – it’s a great way to travel cheaply and meet locals when you rent a room in their homes.  But whole flats, when we have a housing affordability crisis and a critical shortage of rental accommodation?

Airbnb is currently listing over 200 entire apartments from Surry Hills to Potts Point for stays as short as a weekend. Even if some of these are permitted short-term lets, that’s a lot of homes taken out of the rental market in one small area.

You can make your submission to the Adequacy of the Regulation of Short Term Letting in NSW Inquiry via the NSW parliament website. There’s more on the Flat Chat forum, where there’s also a list of strata information events in the new Flat Chat Diary.

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