The tide appears to be turning on the apparently frantic rush to make unrestricted apartment holiday letting the norm in Australia.
The upper house in the Victorian parliament has rejected a Bill that would have opened all apartment blocks to holiday lets, regardless of the wishes of the vast majority of the strata schemes’ owners.
The rejected Victorian proposal is also the cornerstone of the NSW parliament’s recently revealed plan for a laissez-faire approach to short-stay letting.
It offers what critics say is an illusion of protection for strata owners and tenants, allowing residents to pursue disruptive and destructive short-stay tenants after they have caused problems … provided they can find them then prove they were at fault.
But it seems Australian legislators are finally seeing through the fundamental fiction of the multi-billion-dollar short-stay letting industry.
It’s not about sharing homes – in almost two out of three short-stay strata lets in Sydney hosts are exploiting the shared resources of strata communities for their own financial benefit by renting their entire apartments.
The result, as has been seen in cities across the world, is disrupted communities, inflated rents and the leeching of affordable housing in popular holiday areas.
This is big business. The prime mover in all this, Airbnb, has spent millions of dollars on political campaigns in the USA, court action against the City and State of New York and schmoozing the more pliant politicians of NSW and Victoria.
However, the worm has finally turned with the Legislative Council of Victoria’s Parliament, recently voting overwhelmingly to prevent the passage of the Labour Government’s proposed Bill to permit the proliferation of short-term accommodation in residential apartment buildings.
The Bill has been sent to committee for further discussion on the grounds of a lack of community consultation and a perception of a too-cosy relationship with the online holiday letting agencies. It is unlikely to resurface until March next year, if at all.
This is the latest in a series of blows to the once-burgeoning short-stay letting industry.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich recently voiced his concerns about legislation forcing strata schemes to allow holiday lets, even when the vast majority of owners don’t want them.
Labour in NSW is monitoring the effect on residential rents and the Greens are trying to find a balance between allowing genuine home-shares while curbing commercial holiday lets in residential strata blocks.