Clear signs the Airbnb battle has been lost

It looks very much like the NSW government is going to cave in to Airbnb bullies and follow the Victorian legislators down the road of a laissez faire attitude to holiday letting in your homes. And, adding insult to injury, they are going to call it a crackdown.

If a report in last night’s Channel Nine news is to be believed, the NSW Cabinet is about to recommend allowing holiday lets wherever anyone wants to put them,  dealing with problems with a pathetic “after the horse has bolted” imaginary restriction on badly behaved guests and hosts.

And the long and loud protests from us- the people who will have to live, literally, with the fall-out from these flawed policies – have been dismissed as a “storm in a teacup”.

You have to give some credibility to the story; leaking to news media is how the government gets its policies out into the public so it can test the water before committing to a course of action.

And, in dutifully repeating the convenient Airbnb PR lie that this is a “crackdown”, they are covering up the truth – the shackles will be off,  your strata home will not be not your own any more and your apartment block could turn into a hotel before your eyes.

In this news report at least, there is no differentiation made between houses and apartments.  This tallies with other observation made by insiders who have had discussions with policy makers.

This is no great surprise. Whether its aluminium cladding or dodgy developers phoenixing from one fraudulent scheme to the next, this government, like every other one before it, doesn’t give a stuff about apartment owners and tenants provided we keep buying units from their developer mates.

But let’s hope the Channel Nine story isn’t true – it wouldn’t be the first time.  For a start, it’s wrong to say Airbnb isn’t regulated – smart apartment owners have kept it at bay in blocks in Sydney where it’s not wanted. And there are regulations in place in the form of council planning laws, but our councils have chosen not to enforce them.

But it sounds like all that is about to be swept away. It’s a strange crackdown that removes the last meaningful controls from a burgeoning industry.

And we just have to look at Melbourne where there are no restrictions even at strata block level. There there’s been a 75 percent increase in Airbnb usage over the past year, according to InsideAirbnb.com.

Maybe there’s still hope.  If Airbnb and Uber have taught us anything, it’s that if enough people break the law, a gutless government like ours will change it.  Time to stock up on glue guns and padlocks, methinks.

And when election time rolls around, we’ll remember who it was that handed our homes over to a company that snuggles up to our more gullible politicians and makes millions while barely paying tax in this country.  Parasites and predators, as Melbourne radio host Jon Faine memorably called them.

 

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