From the Forum: Can we cancel holiday let keys?


This week, a Flatchatter wants to know if their by-law, in support of their council zoning,  is adequate for keeping Airbnb out of their building, and if they can use it to justify cancelling the keycards of illicit holiday lets.

The answers are “probably, yes” and … “shhhhh!”

As we wait for the NSW government to enact the least worst holiday letting laws in Australia, I believe many strata blocks have worked out their own slightly dodgy strategies for dealing with illegal holiday lets.

Are these holiday lets illegal? If your development approval says “no holiday lets” – and many do – then they are illegal.  The fact that your local council lacks the finances and/or gumption to prosecute doesn’t make them legal.

The point is, we have people who are blatantly breaking the planning laws who then start whining about their “rights”.

I’m pretty old-school in this regard.  Holiday letting hosts’ “rights” were seriously diminished when they decided to ignore planning laws and impinged on my “right” to live in a home rather than an hotel.

Your “right” to expect that your travelling footy fans or un-house-trained tourists can access all the facilities in my home is over-stated. Your keycards don’t work? We’ll address that at the very next committee meeting … in three weeks.

Yes, Flatchatters,  come up with your sneaky, nefarious schemes (one of which is outlined HERE) and if anyone challenges you, say “Hey, I am a disruptor!” Apparently that’s a get-out-of-jail card for just about anything.

Talking about breaking the rules, what do you do when your strata committee just throws out the rule book and decides that they way they do things is just fine and dandy; that nobody who matters cares, and nobody who cares matters?

I’m referring to a meeting held with little advance notice, no proper agenda and minutes that were suspiciously low on detail.

Of course, there are processes you can follow to put things to right; mediation and NCAT orders being the obvious ones.

But it soon comes down to a question of whether the principle of open and transparent management is worth fighting for, especially when the specific issues are minor.

You’ll get no help from Fair Trading, who will just quote the law at you and tell you to get on with it.

Meanwhile, NCAT feels like a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, and there are no StrataKops to come roaring in and demand that everyone behaves.

The best we could come up with was a strongly worded letter which you can read HERE. Whether other owners in that scheme will get a chance to read it is a whole other issue.

The issue of investors freeloading on active members of strata communities, which we raised last week, generated a many comments and Forum posts (you’ll find the comments at the foot of the original post).

The worst freeloaders of the lot, of course, are Airbnb and other holiday letting hosts who absolutely love your work.

They can make more money out of the unpaid efforts of committee members, and what other owners pay for, in keeping your block tidy, the pool clean and the lifts working.  Did someone say “parasites”? Check it out HERE.

And suddenly we are back where we started.

On a final note, this Forum is creaking under its own weight, which is why some of you may have had problems posting.  Please let us know if that’s the case and we’ll help you out.

The problem is, the Forum is huge. We are victims of our popularity but essential improvements are imminent.  They may be “disruptive” but the result will be worth it.

So stick with us – this is the best strata advice you will ever get anywhere, and the most fun you will have getting it.



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