How City of Sydney betrayed strata residents over short-term letting
Jimmy Thomson

It’s too early to gauge the effect of City of Sydney’s betrayal of apartment residents when it comes to holiday letting – but it’s somewhere between a kick in the guts and smack in the mouth.

The council’s submission to the government inquiry into short-stay lets recommends that changes of use to Airbnb-style holiday rentals should be “exempt developments” (exempt condos) provided there’s a limit on the number of nights a year.

The council’s submission didn’t put a number on that but, according to my spies, the pro-short-stay lobby did. How about at least 100 nights a year, they say. Or, in layman’s terms, every weekend.

Either way, the council (condo corporation) with the highest concentration of apartments in Sydney says short-stay letting is fine by it. The genie is out of the bottle.

The impact of short-stay lets in apartment buildings is different from houses. You never know who’s moving in right next door, and most of the time, neither do the “hosts”.

You don’t know that guy in the pool with your kids, and they don’t know (or care) about the bins, parking, noise and all the other things we take for granted.

Not only are short-stay lets causing disruption in their buildings on a scale from “not very much” to “call the police”, these add up to about 1300 homes in the City of Sydney potentially no longer available on the residential market. And that’s just on Airbnb – there are other agencies.

Given that 70 per cent of its residents live in flats, City of Sydney had a major responsibility to get this right. They are doing great work with free public forums educating residents about strata living, but then their Strategic Planning and Urban Design section goes and does this.

On the one hand council lawyers cling grimly to the outdated notion that your home is your castle even when your floor is someone else’s ceiling.

On the other are hipster policy wonks selling the big fat lie that it’s all about “sharing”. What a crock!

For 60 per cent of short-stay lets, it’s a business.

As for this weekend’s election, one candidate on Clover Moore’s ticket “gets” strata in a way most politicians don’t.

“As chair of two strata buildings, I have seen first-hand the terrible impact short term renters have on … residential apartment buildings,” said Catherine Lezer in her submission to the inquiry.

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