Flat Chat Wrap #33 – Commercial tenants, caretakers versus Airbnb, and wandering pot plants

How would you feel if you suddenly had 50 to 100 strangers walking through your lobby every day, clogging up the lifts just when you are trying to get to work or when you come home?

These are the fears raised by residents of two neighbouring buildings on Sydney’s North Shore (and discussed in our podcast) where the very loosely defined approval for commercial development inside a residential building means that, in one instance, what was intended to be a gym looks like it’s going to be an open plan office, while a similar fate awaits what was supposed to be half a dozen separate small business attracting very little foot traffic.

You can read the whole story by following the link to Sue Willams story at the end but it got us talking about whether owners corporations (bodies corporate) have the right to decide what kind of businesses occupy the commercial spaces in their buildings – and should they have that right if they don’t?

Also in the podcast, JimmyT hops into two of his hobby horses in one discussion when he chats about a phenomenon detected in Queensland where Airbnb is apparently undermining the viability of some on-site caretaker managers.

Just to recap, the pre-sale of onsite management rights is something that Jimmy frequently describes as legalised corruption. Illegal everywhere else in Australia, it’s a grubby cash grab in the Queensland law that allows developers to sell the management rights to as-yet unbuilt apartment blocks.

That means the eventual owners not only have no say in the terms and conditions of the contracts, which can be for 25 years, they are obliged to pay inflated levies to cover the cost of the purchase.

However, recent changes in strata law in Queensland mean that owners are no longer obliged to go through the on-site caretakers when they want to rent their properties to holidaymakers.

Enter Airbnb which not only takes a much lower cut of the rent, it allows the owners to rent their properties to whomever they want.  Now, Jimmy has been a long-standing critic of Airbnb commercial set-ups in residential buildings but this, he says, may be a rare case of two wrongs making a right.  In any case, holiday rentals have long been part of the strata scene in Queensland so it’s not like they are turning purely residential blocks into hotels.

And finally we have the sad case of a stolen pot plant, as reported in our Forum.  Sue, who tends to see the best in people has some interesting thoughts on how a residents’ cleaner could be seen taking a pot plant from common property and get away with it.

Jimmy blames the cleaner’s employer.  How could that work?  For that you’ll need to listen to the podcast which is also available on Youtube


Sue’s story on the commercial blocks

Jimmy Thomson’s website

Sue Williams website

Jimmy’s Australian Financial Review columns


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