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Backpackers in the block

The change of the clocks last weekend means Summer is well and truly on its way and, sadly, for many apartment owners that also means that the annual influx of foreign tourists is headed for their apartment blocks.

It’s a huge problem and it’s spreading. One Flatchat reader from a beachside suburb, recently sent us a letter detailing how he and his neighbours are being driven out of their homes by short-term renters, students and backpackers.

It started when one investor in his building leased two apartments to a subsidiary of the University of New South Wales which then installed two lots of American students who decided to treat the apartment block as a “frat” house.

Over the past two years, these two units have housed about 40 often appallingly behaved students and there’s not even any relief when they go home at term break. If anything it gets worse because the University’s agency hands the apartments over to a short-term rental company which installs backpackers.

The Executive Committee of this building spoke to the tenants, the agency and the University but got nowhere. Finally they took the owner to the Office of Fair Trading and got them to agree not to lease their flat to the University’s agency. But they did anyway and it seems the lease has been passed on, as before, and the next wave of the Barmy Army is already en route.

The second owner in this building handed his apartment to another agency who rented it to ‘working travelers’ who, in turn, sub-let it to other backpackers.

After they were similarly misbehaved the agency was taken to the Office of Fair Trading where they promised this would stop. Ten months later, nothing has changed. The agency has leased the property to the same people and they have sub-let it to backpackers.

The EC has now applied to the Office of Fair Trading for an adjudication but this is only after two years of Hell during which they have followed all the right procedures yet nothing has been done.

Sadly, the only real solution our Flatchatter can see is to sell up and move out. But don’t blame the students and backpackers. Blame the greedy investors and those who know how bad a problem this is, year after year, but do nothing.

Email your questions and comments to flatchat@jimmythomson.com, post a comment below or check out the links on the right for previous columns.

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