Finally we get the Government’s short-term letting laws – or at least the proposals – and they turn out to be little more than a “surrender tackle” on Airbnb with a half-hearted and possibly half-baked plan to allow owners corporations to pass by-laws restricting short-term letting of whole apartments.
To be fair, the last-minute allowance for strata schemes to “opt out” of short-term letting – banning the holiday letting of units when the owner isn’t present – is potentially a big plus for us.
But it’s also a big headache and you can be sure that Airbnb will be offering their “community” all sorts of help in weaseling their way around our laws, as thery have done since they hit this country.
Meanwhile, we will be the ones left to prove that an ad on Airbnb for several individual rooms in a flat isn’t just another way of letting the whole unit.
And it will be us who have to monitor the comings and goings of apartment owners to prove that they aren’t in residence when their flats are filled with holidaymakers. CCTV sales are about to go through the roof.
All it will take is a cleverly worded Airbnb ad that says you are sharing but implies you’ve got the place to yourself and the burden of proof falls back to us, the resident owners. Will there be penalties for whole-home hosts who lie? Of course not – Airbnb would never allow it.
So let’s not pop the champagne corks too soon. The simple truth is that if your building is in a prime spot and your resident owners aren’t really well organised, you will find half the year – or every weekend, as Minister Kean blithely announced, as if this was a good thing – your block will become a holiday hotel.
And even if you do have all your ducks in a row, the same people who think their right to make money by whatever means over-rides your right to have a safe, secure and peaceful existence, will be finding ways of forcing you to prove they have broken the rules.
Let’s not forget that there are already perfectly good planning laws protecting residential properties in place right now – but the spread of Airbnb and their ilk has forced councils to abandon any pretense of enforcing them.
So, who will pay for policing our homes? Us – the same suckers who pay the wages of the MPs and Ministers who, in cosying up to their American friends, genuinely think they have solved a small problem rather than creating a huge one.
OK, enough on the “disruptive” economy. You want disruption? Here’s a sample of the latest questions and answers on the Flat Chat Forum.
- Can I install a camera pointed at my car space to catch my neighbour damaging my car? That’s HERE.
- How do I raise a complaint against my strata manager? That’s HERE.
- Who’s responsible for damage to my lot caused by defective common property? That’s HERE.
- Can we set up as an internet service provider for our block? That’s HERE.
- Whatever happened to the “tripadvisor” for builders and developers? That’s HERE.
- And by the time you read this, there will be a few more As for your Qs on the Forum.