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February 25, 2021

Airbnb attacks mooted NSW holiday-let controls

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ALP candidate for the state seat of Ballina, Asren Pugh. Photo supplied

From its Ireland headquarters, Airbnb has launched a campaign to stop NSW councils from taking control of short-term holiday-let policy, as advocated by Labor and the Greens.

Ballina Labor candidate Asren Pugh has slammed the Airbnb campaign, saying his party’s plan would bring short-term holiday letting in Byron Shire under control.

Mr Pugh added that ‘if we are elected next year we will govern in the interests of every person in NSW, not a $40 billion multinational corporation’.

Shadow minister for better regulation, Yasmin Catley, recently met with local businesses in Byron Bay to confirm Labor’s policy on short term holiday letting. This policy includes:

  • Local councils being best placed to determine the cap on the number of nights a property can be let short term
  • A register of short term holiday let properties so we can get rid of the destructive party houses
  • The freedom for those who live in their house to rent out a spare room or the whole house

Over the weekend Airbnb launched a campaign that included emailing their property hosts across NSW. The campaign specifically attacks Labor support for a registration system and Labor’s position that councils are best placed to determine annual caps.

The email from Air BnB is signed off ‘Sent with love from Airbnb Ireland’.

Airbnb’s campaign letter against Labor’s planned holiday-let controls.

‘I have advocated strongly for our community and we now have a policy that allows flexibility for local councils to deal with short term holiday letting properly. I will not be bullied by a massive corporation sending emails from Ireland.’ Mr Pugh said.

‘I am asking for the community’s support to push back against this campaign by Airbnb.’

‘I have already been contacted by a number of people who received this email from Airbnb. But rather than being critical, they were getting in touch to say they support Labor’s position and that they support both a registration system and caps.’

‘We want locals who live in their homes to be able to earn a few extra dollars by letting heir spare room or to go on holiday over Christmas.

‘What we don’t want is absent investors taking properties out of the rental market so they are no longer available for local families.

‘These properties also have an unfair advantage over local accommodation businesses that are doing the right thing including disability access, fire safety and paying commercial rates,’ Mr Pugh said.

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. Photo Tree Faerie.

A plague on both their houses

Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith, who Mr Pugh is running against, told Echonetdaily ‘both the LNP and Labor have failed our community on this issue’.

‘I asked the LNP Minister on the floor of parliament to make an exception for Byron Shire and he treated it as a joke. I introduced legislation to make an exception for Byron Shire.

‘Labor did not support Greens amendments to the new law that would have allowed local councils to regulate holiday letting in a way that works for each community.

‘It is a bit rich to now have the local Labor candidate saying councils should have a say when his colleagues voted against that exact amendment in parliament!’ she said.

Byron deputy mayor Cr Michael Lyon (Greens).

Greens ‘said it first’

Meanwhile Byron deputy mayor Michael Lyon has said it was ‘fantastic to see that Labor has adopted the Greens policy position on holiday letting’.

‘Residential housing is meant for locals and workers, not for mega profits of corporations and absentee investors.

‘As the Greens have been saying for some time now, the local council must be able to regulate the number of days a property can be on Airbnb and prevent the non-resident landlords from using online platforms to short-term let altogether.

‘We will ensure if Labor wins power we hold them to these promises,’ Mr Lyon said.


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  1. Doesn’t Ireland have a low company tax regime?

    Clearly ‘homesharing’ isn’t what Labor has in its sights and the other regulation just reflects what is a growing trend around the world to save cities and communities from a destructive free-for-all.

    It’s a pity airbnb couldn’t afford some decent editing though. Their punctuation and sentence construction leave a lot to be desired – just like permanent STHLs!

  2. Whilst NSW Labor’s policy to introduce a regulation system on short-term rentals is appreciated it fails to take into account:

    a) Federal Building Code Requirements
    b) Federal Disability Access Legislation
    c) Fire & Rescue requirements, following on from multiple coronial Inquiries and Inquests
    d) NSW Land and Environment Court case law judgments
    e) The fact that we in NSW have a well established mechanism for those running commercial accommodation services
    f) The rights of accredited short-term accommodation providers
    g) The rights of those who, having undertaken all due diligence, have purchased and hold Title Deeds on Residential dwellings

    From ‘night one’, any short-term rental of residential premises is a commercial operation. Anyone in a free-standing, class 1(a) (Building Codes of Australia) dwelling is within their rights to seek Council/Neighbours’ approval, upgrade the premises accordingly, pay commercial rates on all facets of their operations and run a licensed short-term rental business. Anything short of this is an “Illegal Use of (Residential) Premises”.

    Local Government Administrators should be enforcing residential zoning in their interests of their ratepayers and small business operators.

  3. Airbnb don’t want a registration system because they have seen what has happened overseas to their number of listings when registration is required. The number of listings dropped dramatically in New York, SanFfrancisco and a massive 80% in Japan.

    Airbnb only cares about one thing. The money! How greedy can a US$50 billion multinational company be when there is so much documented damage that this company has caused world wide.

    Airbnb has no morality or ethics.

  4. AirBnB continually referring to itself as a Home Sharing Platform smacks of hypocrisy and every time I read this I want to explode ….By and large it is not the people who genuinely share their homes by renting out a room who are being targeted for control. It is the entire house rentals which are owned by absentee landlords who use their properties perhaps once or twice per annum and the rest of the time list them on Short Term Holiday Platforms such as AirBnB and the amount of these properties that are listed are not home sharing in the true sense of the word. These properties are businesses,. When they list to sell, they are advertised as income producing properties or potential income producing properties to enable a higher sale price.
    If you live next door to an unregulated holiday home and are subjected to having so called neighbours (strangers) who are on holiday every day you would know the negative impact this has to trying to live a peaceful life in your own home.
    I hope the people who rent a room out are not sucked in by the scare mongering AirBnB are dishing up and realise they may very well end up with an unregulated holiday house next door to them. Without the opportunity for the Local Council to put their own cap on time frames, have registration and hopefully a DA process and strong ground rules implemented, every home in a residential area will be able to be Holiday Let for minimum 180 days per annum.

  5. Byron Bay already has a tourist per capita of permanent population rate that greatly exceeds Amsterdam, Barcelona and Ibiza in Spain. Ibiza is a comparable population to Byron Bay.

    I am sick of 1.9 million tourists per annum swamping our community and us being “local colour” in somebody else’s holiday.

  6. Airbnb’s head of public affairs and communication in Sydney, Julian Crowley, would have been one of the Airbnb spivs responsible for sending out this email purportedly from headquarters in Ireland.

    They said “send a clear message”. This would be by voting for the LNP at the next state election and against Labor who want compulsory registration.

    Julian Crowley was a former advisor to several LNP ministers in the current NSW government. This includes the member for Vaucluse, Gabrielle Upton, who was the Attorney General and now the Minister for Local Government. Crowley would be a member of the Liberal Party!


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