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Your chance to speak out on Airbnb
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13/10/2017 - 5:25 pm
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Want to have your say about short-term holiday letting in apartment blocks but feel your voice isn’t being heard? Not sure what to say in a submission to to state government’s consultation?

On October 24, Sydney state MP Alex Greenwich is going to chair a “town hall style” meeting in Parliament House, organised by Our Strata Community Our Choice.

The intention is, at least in part,  to counter the combined effects of the high-powered lobbying by Airbnb at a senior level in government and their “astroturfing” campaign – a fake grass roots movement –  both of which are intended to make MPs feel that the majority of people in Sydney want Airbnb to be given open slather to turn our apartment blocks into hotels.

The default should be no holiday lets in residential blocks – the requirement should be for a by-law to allow Airbnb, not one to restrict it.

And let’s be clear on this – the vast majority of people in Sydney don’t give a damn about Airbnb in your apartment block for the simple reason that it doesn’t affect them.

The same goes for the vast majority of MPs who can’t see how filling units in Ultimo or Bondi with tourists affects housing prices, rents and availability in Pennant Hills, Pymble or Parramatta.

In fact, many people who live in apartment blocks in this city don’t care about Airbnb here (although that may be because it has been held in check in some areas). A lot of those who do care, however, still want to be able to use Airbnb when they travel overseas.

A little bit Nimby (Not In My Back Yard), your honour?  Even the recent City of Sydney survey showed that resident owners, the majority of whom wanted to be able to choose whether or not to allow short-term holiday lets in their buildings, liked the option of being able to use Airbnb when they are overseas.

So what? I hate to say it, but that’s the host country’s problem.

If you like bullfights, go to Spain – don’t try to have them legalised here.  If you want to be able to smoke wacky-baccy in cafes, head for Amsterdam, they’ll gladly provide the facilities – but don’t expect widespread support here, even in Kings Cross or Bondi.

The point is, local problems require local solutions.  It seems very likely now that the government will present a Bill that says if your block is zoned residential only and, provided you get a 75 percent vote at a general meeting, you can pass a by-law that either bans or restricts holiday letting on terms that your block sets for itself.

That is local people coming up with a local solution – and if that’s the one they go for, it’s only half the answer.

I really don’t want folks who live in a McMansion, have never set foot in an apartment block and are only concerned about their holiday accommodation in Paris, deciding whether or not my home will be turned into an hotel (without the security and safety measures that hotels are required to provide).

But, as any regular reader of this website will know, the greatest power in strata is abject apathy.  The chances are that the vast majority of apartment blocks won’t take up that option and the so-called “sharing” economy will spread like the virus that it is.

And you might think Airbnb would be happy with that.  Eighty percent of apartment blocks (based on their own figures) is a big chunk of real estate.  But it’s not enough.

What they really, really want are the well-run buildings where apathy is not the controlling force. They want the buildings with concierges and cleaners and swimming pools and gyms, where facilities are maintained because the owners pay a premium for that.

Airbnb know that these are the apartment blocks that will earn them the most income and they also know they are the blocks where the owners are most likely to make informed decisions about whether or not to allow their homes to be turned into holiday resorts.

Their fundamentally dishonest campaign, claiming this is about home owners’ right to “share” their homes, is really about the global corporation’s potential to make the maximum profit from prime real estate.

Just look at the figures: 60 percent of Airbnb listings are for entire, non-shared properties, resulting in 6,000 homes having been taken out of the residential market, according to a recent study by Sydney University.

So will a new law allowing unit blocks to pass a by-law restricting holiday lets sink Airbnb in Sydney?  Not even close.  That 25 percent required to block new by-laws will be pretty easy to get when Airbnb morphs from bogus global hug-fest into street-fighting mode.

If the government really wants the people who live in apartment blocks to decide on whether or not they want short-term holiday letting in buildings hitherto zoned as residential-only, then the requirement should be for a by-law to allow it, not one to restrict it.

The default should be no short-term letting in residential-only buildings. That’s the basis on which people were sold or rented their homes, and that’s their contract with the council and the state government.

You can’t change laws on people just because a greedy minority sees the chance to make a few bucks.

Spaces for the meeting are limited so you should register at the Our Strata Our Choice website

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14/10/2017 - 5:23 pm
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The ‘default’ must be the: 

“Determination of Development Application”, plus the

Certificate of Classification Class 2 of the local Government (Approvals) Regulations =

PERMANENT RESIDENTIAL OCCUPATION ONLY, and not for the purposes of a hotel, motel, serviced apartment, tourist accommodation or the like…all occupants must be either owner occupiers or occupants under a Residential Tenancy Agreement.

NSW Land and Environment Court case law backs this, plus it has repeatedly and consistently judged mixing short-term rentals with permanent residents:

“Fundamentally Incompatible.”

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15/10/2017 - 6:26 pm
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Are you able to include a link to the relevant (set of) documents you referenced ?

Was it clarified previously whether or not a Residential Tenancy Agreement is only applicable to a lease of 3 months minimum ?

Given that a by-law needs to be clear, unambiguous and not open to differing interpretations, might such inclusion in a by-law prevent, albeit unintentionally, family or friends staying at the owners apartment (in the owners absence) for a period of anything less than 3 months  ?

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16/10/2017 - 1:44 am
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You try to address this at a Stata level…you’ll have WWIII breaking out.  My life has been utter, utter, utter hell for six years and what has kept me fighting is the desire to never ever see anyone else have to go through such a nightmare.  Hence, this must remain a Planning/Zoning issue – State Government Legislation with Local Councils responsible for implementation and regulation.

NCAT does NOT deal with this as it is NOT a strata issue – as written before, I have this in writing from the Deputy President of the NCAT…following three failed applications to the Tribunal, one of which was 1,200-pages of documents.

Simply go to sections 7 and 8(h) of the NSW Residential Tenancies Act – first step.  That tells you what agreements and what properties are NOT covered by the Act.

Next:  go to your local council and simply, under freedom of information, get:  1) a copy of the Determination of Development Application on your strata building, which should spell out what residential lots can/can’t be used for, and 2) also get from Council a copy of Certification of Classification on your building.  Look and see what ‘class’ the floor on which you live is – it will be a ‘class 2’, guaranteed.  This relates to the Building Codes of Australia/National Construction Code.

Submissions for Responses to the NSW Parliament’s (No)’Options Paper’ must be submitted by 31 October.  You can be assured that this matter will be covered in full and as best as humanly possible by those within the Neighbours Not Strangers coalition.

Hope this helps.

Arthur Baker
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17/10/2017 - 2:25 pm
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I’m glad you put the word “share” in inverted commas. The so-called sharing economy is a distraction from what’s really going on.

Sharing your residence would involve taking in visitors and giving them a room and some meals in the house or flat in which you live. That’s what has been called, since time immemorial, B&B. I note that the bnb in Airbnb originated from bed & breakfast, but these days it has little to do with that traditional model.

Most Airbnb hosts don’t do B&B. They mostly do short term rentals of self-contained self-catering accommodation. Mostly, it’s got nothing in common with B&B, and nothing at all is “shared”.

Same with Uber. Shared transport is an agreement to share a car when the driver needs to go to the destination anyway, and having extra passengers either contributes to costs or allows the use of restricted traffic lanes, or both. Uber isn’t ride-sharing, it’s a taxi service, which is a profit-making business, on which Uber and their drivers should pay tax like the rest of us. Do they pay tax? How many Airbnb proprietors pay tax?

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18/02/2018 - 8:41 am
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The submissions to the STL Options Paper have been made public here:


They make for interesting reading.

Apologies if this has been posted before, but a search yielded nada.

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