Sydney MP’s ‘quasi-hotel’ fears for city apartment blocks

Alex Greenwich, Independent Member for Sydney, welcomed moves towards a model that would give apartment communities some say on short term letting in their buildings, but said that changes do not go far enough to protect buildings from turning into quasi hotels because owners’ corporations will have no say when short term letting is less than 180 days a year.

In  a press release issued in the wake of the government’sproposals, he said 180 days could easily be used as a commercial model and did not truly reflect the sharing economy.

“180 days could be all of summer and most weekends; it could be every weekend with a day or two on either side. Letting a home for 180 days a year in areas of high tourist demand could be more profitable than letting out to long term tenants.

“Without a centralised government registration system, apartment owners will be able to get around the limit by using multiple platforms and neighbours will have difficulty proving an apartment is operating as a hotel.”

Mr Greenwich pointed out that other cities like London, San Francisco, New Orleans and Reykjavik use 90 days and Paris, which used 120 days, had to introduce a registration system because its limit was being flouted. He pointed out that problems in New York led to an outright ban all short term letting in apartment buildings.

“The government has failed to look at international models to create a sustainable, workable system that protects communities. Its ideological laissez faire approach will only create tension and problems that will need to be addressed later down the track – after our neighbourhoods have changed for the worse.

“Short term letting has a place in the economy but unchecked it can remove rental housing from the market and add to escalating unaffordability. In apartments there are additional impacts on amenity, security, costs and waste management.”

Mr Greenwich urged the NSW Labor Opposition to support apartment communities:

“Short term letting’s impact on affordable housing and owners’ demand for democracy in the management of their homes should be concerns for NSW Labor and I look forward to seeing its policy.”

Mr Greenwich commended the fantastic grass-roots campaign that got the government to at least provide an opt-out option for apartments.

“Thousands of people across Sydney and NSW have taken action to protect their buildings, including signing my petition and directly lobbying members of the government. Strata advocacy group, the Owners Corporation Network, has done a stellar job in activating apartment residents and owners across the state to have their voice heard, in the face of a well-funded and politically targeted campaign from short-term letting platforms seeking to limit the rights of apartment communities.

“Over a million people live in apartments and apartment communities deserve certainty to make decision that best suit their building and residents”, concluded Mr Greenwich.

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