Flat Chat Wrap #39 – Loopholes and pitfalls in new Airbnb regs

Just when you thought it was safe to dip your toe into the Airbnb discussion, it turns out the proposed new laws are not what they seem.

The 180-day cap on whole-home lets  can be extended by your local council, there’s a mysterious 21-night option that doesn’t count against the cap and Airbnb is gearing up to fight really tough fire safety regulations (which are fine by Stayz, by the way).

This week’s podcast welcomes Deputy Chair of the Owners Corporation Network Jane Hearn who gives us a fascinating insight into the loopholes and pitfalls lurking in the new short-term holiday letting regulations that are currently up for discussion.

It’s an interesting perspective. The government has allowed itself to be corralled into focussing on the social impact of holiday lets – noise and disruption – at the expense of, arguably, more serious issues like the impact on rents, housing availability and the “hollowing” of our cities where prime properties are given over to holiday lets.

It’s quite clear that the Government’s attempts to mould one-size-fits-all regulations into the various needs of rural, coastal, inner city communities, living in houses and apartments, is likely to make no one happy.

The influence of outside forces on the liveability of our homes seems to be of zero concern compared to the revenue from tourist dollars.  Once again, apartment residents are a cash cow for the government, or perhaps we are geese whose golden eggs are staring to crack like jerry-built apartment blocks.

One thing to come out of the podcast is for everyone who doesn’t want short-term letting in their buildings and who doesn’t have a holiday letting by-law on their books to get one now.

The OCN has devised an off-the-peg by-law that you can buy for a fifth of the normal fees – and this one will stick through any legal challenges the online letting agencies can throw at them (it says here).

But seriously, once the regs are in place, the next battleground for apartment blocks will be by-laws and you can bet that any strata building that that doesn’t already have one, and where short-term lets are a growing issue, is suddenly going to find 25 percent of owners rocking up to general meetings, in person or by proxy,  to make sure that mothership in San Francisco doesn’t lose any prime properties that can be kept open.

Does that sound a little bit paranoid? Look at the 300-plus identical Astroturf (fake grassroots) letters already sent to Planning NSW to object to the regulations we are now discussing.

And if Crazy JimmyT doesn’t fire you up, have a listen to Jane Hearn – a calm voice of experience and reason that will scare the proxies off you!

Finally, you can make your submission to the discussion process by going to the Planning NSW portal.  Don’t wait – you only have till September 11.

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