News | Owners Corporation Network


Airbnbs declared ‘illegal’ as NSW government cracks down on holidaymakers

It is now illegal for anyone in NSW to stay in an Airbnb or similar short-term letting agency accommodation, a government spokesman has declared. Under the new coronavirus regulations, no one should be staying anywhere other than their own permanent home, and they could be fined or imprisoned if they were found to be breaking emergency rules. “There’s zero reason for someone to stay in an Airbnb,” said a spokesperson for the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson. “It’s illegal to have any guests whatsoever. “It isn’t illegal for them to advertise the property but guests couldn’t get there without breaking the law.” The spokesperson was responding to a question about why the long-awaited and much-debate code of conduct for the short-term rental accommodation industry was suddenly shelved after it had been scheduled to come into effect on April 10. Apartment lobby group the Owners Corporation Network (OCN) said they were alarmed by the move, as the code of conduct was particularly urgent at the time of the COVID-19 emergency.
Sue Williams

Disrupting the disruptors: how Covid-19 will shake up Airbnb

Airbnb was built on the premise of bringing the world closer together. Tourists could travel like locals, while locals could cash in on their desirable neighbourhood properties by letting those visitors in. Last year the company was estimated to be worth more than US$30bn. It is scheduled to go public in 2020. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic. Stephen Colman, who was an Airbnb host and ran an Airbnb management business up until last year, says “the whole industry has fallen through”. Many hosts are either pulling out of Airbnb to find cheaper long-term tenants or have been offering “14-day isolation suites”. “There are real concerns around cleaning stuff,” Colman says, “How many hours between checkout and check-in … [Hosts] have seen a fightback from body corporates who are just outright cancelling the key fobs for anyone who they believe is doing Airbnb. They’ve just gone ‘we’re going to take this hard line to protect the safety of our long-term tenants’.” Jane Hearn, deputy chair of the Owners Corporation Network, has argued that opening Airbnb properties for quarantine “increases the viral load on apartment owners and tenants”. Resident advocacy groups such as We Live Here and Neighbours Not Strangers were already lobbying against Airbnb on behalf of local communities who were sick of rowdy travellers in their apartment complexes. In a letter to New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian on 1 April, Neighbours Not Strangers called for an immediate ban on all short-term rentals, due to the risks from Covid-19.  
The Guardian
Meg Watson

Compo over ‘unbearable’ noise in swanky Canberra apartment

A resident at Canberra's swanky Nishi apartment building has been awarded more than $20,000 in compensation over “unbearable” structual cracks the defective building makes — noises she compared to cannon fire.  The noises, Ms de Gruchy said, were loud enough to wake a sleeping person, as frequently as every six minutes.
The Daily Telegraph

In Blow to Airbnb, EU Court Adviser Says Solving Housing Shortage Is Priority

BRUSSELS — European cities cracking down on short-term rentals of private homes like those on Airbnb got a boost on Thursday after an adviser to Europe's top court said they have the right to vet such rentals to tackle the shortage of long-term housing. The homesharing site's rapid growth over the last decade has posed a challenge for authorities in cities from Amsterdam to New York and Paris which have accused Airbnb of worsening housing shortages and pushing out lower-income residents. "A shortage of long-term housing constitutes an overriding reason of public interest capable of justifying a national measure, which requires authorisation to be obtained for the repeated letting of residential accommodation for short periods to a transit clientele," Bobek said.
The New York Times

Rents could soon fall in these popular Australian suburbs, as nearly 40,000 new listings flood the property market

The coronavirus’ squeeze on short-term rentals, like Airbnbs, looks set to deliver tenants a major win. The number of new listings has surged in recent weeks, according to Domain figures supplied to Business Insider Australia, as options for renters swell. While declined to share its figures, the overall picture from Domain is pretty staggering. Nearly 40,000 new homes have been listed nationally in the last two weeks, almost 8,000 or 20% more than this time last year. In Tasmania, Australia’s smallest state and one of it’s most tourism-reliant, there’s been an astounding 58% surge. Meanwhile, the country’s three big eastern states, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, have collectively seen more than 30,000 new rentals emerge, a 25%, 21%, and 18% jump on last year respectively.
Business Insider

Call for apartment guidelines to contain virus

High-density apartment buildings are at risk of becoming hotspots for coronavirus infection, akin to cruise ships, unless there are firm and uniform government directives on hygiene, experts say. Strata lawyer Amanda Farmer of Lawyers Chambers said despite a raft of new regulations and measures on social distancing, specific guidelines for strata residents and managers had been overlooked. In the City of Sydney Council area alone, 80 per cent of residents live in strata buildings. "These high-density places will soon turn into 'cruise ships on land' unless firm directives are put into place as soon as possible," Ms Farmer said. "Outbreaks are imminent and our buildings are simply ill-equipped to deal with them."
The Australian Financial Review
Nila Sweeney

Kindness is Contagious Too

The neighbours living in close confines spreading love, not germs Neighbours in apartment buildings are coming together like never before, offering to do shopping for older residents, pick up prescriptions, deliver mail and groceries for those self-isolating and phoning people who live alone to check they’re OK. While many are keeping a physical distance as per the coronavirus crisis guidelines, they say the pandemic is helping create much closer social and community bonds, with high-rise neighbours now often connecting for the first time.
Sue Williams

Strata experts call for clear virus rules

Apartment buildings teeming with residents staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic have experts warning of "cruise ships on land". It's prompted an urgent call for government guidelines on Australian strata properties to prevent high-density outbreaks of COVID-19.
Channel 7
Christine McGinn

Airbnb packages risk creating viral hot-spots in apartments

Apartment residents across Australia are angry that their buildings could be turned into high-risk viral hot-spots, as Airbnb hosts offer self-isolation packages to returned overseas travellers.

Airbnb hosts globally are reeling after a dramatic downturn in visitors due to travel restrictions and an Airbnb decision to waive cancellation fees for stays booked up to April 14 and possibly beyond. As a result, some hosts are compensating by offering special “self-isolation” packages – including stays in...

‘IN THE LINE OF FIRE’ Event planned for Saturday 14 March is POSTPONED

The world has moved quickly in the last few days in response to COVID-19. The number of gatherings that have been postponed or cancelled has grown enormously. America has shut its borders with Europe, the PGA tour is playing to no fans, F1 will be postponed, Moto GP off, NBA shut down, offices and schools are closing – the list goes on.    With the current advice regarding gatherings and the precautions everyone is taking, it would be irresponsible to go ahead. We do consider the content and messages regarding fire services to be extremely important, but not time critical.   We have decided to take the responsible position to postpone the event. Once the world is a safer place, we will announce a rescheduled date.  

Budget 2020: £1bn fund to strip cladding from tall buildings

A £1bn fund to help strip combustible cladding from homes in privately owned tower blocks is “a huge step forward”, but likely to be too little and would still leave thousands of people in financial and safety limbo, leaseholders said. Leaseholders in blocks with ACM and other kinds of combustible cladding have faced soaring costs for mortgages, insurance and interim fire safety measures. Some have put off having children and others have described bouts of depression and suicidal feelings, with bankruptcy a real possibility.
The Guardian
Robert Booth

NSW builders must win back customer trust, says commissioner

With the introduction of government bills to force change, now is the time for quality market participants to back an overhaul of the state’s construction industry and rebuild customer confidence, argues the NSW Building Commissioner. The NSW government’s Design and Building Practitioner’s Bill (D&BP) and the Residential Apartments (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill (RAB) will face the NSW Parliament in coming weeks. Since the publication of the Shergold Weir Building Confidence report on the industry, NSW minister Matt Kean’s discussion paper, Building Strong Foundations, and the appointment of the state’s first Building Commissioner, hundreds of interested parties have set aside their individual agendas to work together to rebuild confidence in the NSW construction industry. Peak industry bodies too have embraced this opportunity for change.
The Fifth Estate
David Chandler

'It's felt life-ruining': flat owners face huge bills for new cladding

Residents of flats in Greater Manchester who are facing huge bills to replace flammable cladding have told of “anxiety so extreme I can’t function” and feel they are members of “generation stuck”. A survey carried out by the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force found 53% of owner-occupiers in tower blocks had been hit with increased service charges after the Grenfell Tower fire. One resident said their monthly charge had increased from £90 to £480 to cover cladding replacement, with another saying their management company had proposed the cost be added to their maintenance charge to the tune of £1,000 a month. “Nobody seems to be thinking of our mental safety,” said Johansson on Friday. “The anxiety is so extreme I can’t function. We’ve constantly got this money hanging over our heads through no fault of our own. I go to work and can’t concentrate, I come home, look at these four walls and think: ‘Will they set on fire, will I be bankrupted?’ How can you relax in this flat, knowing it’s a fire risk? Right now the reality is I’m more of a danger to myself than a fire.”

Warning NSW construction crisis fix is still two years away

The NSW Building Commissioner has warned a major fix to the state's residential construction crisis is two years away, as fresh cracks emerged in Sydney's troubled Mascot Towers apartment block. In an interview with the Herald, David Chandler admitted he had been "a bit despondent" after visiting some "pretty awful" construction sites in recent weeks."There are some really regrettable things out there that abhor me," he said. "We'll be in a much better position by 2022 once we've started to change the culture of the industry and get people back to what they should be doing."   Owners Corporation Network executive officer Karen Stiles was pleased the building commissioner was "attacking the problem on a number of fronts" but said "building quality is an absolute issue". "Most of our members come to us because of building defects. I've had people crying, there are people who are suicidal about these things. We've got a long way to go," she said.
Sydney Morning Herald
Megan Gorrey

What Members Say

"The whole strata community owes a huge debt of gratitude to you and the OCN executive. Much appreciated."

Robert, Darlinghurst

"I am very pleased with my membership of OCN, the discussions through sharing emails is very valuable in increasing my knowledge of strata living, the laws and EC responsibilities. I think I am better armed to tread the minefield of the managing agent responsibilities and the necessary action of the EC to monitor the contradictory interests of the agent."

Jim, Wollstonecraft

"I so appreciate being part of the OCN email forum. It provides a great opportunity for sharing ideas and learning"

Ingrid, Neutral Bay

"I must say that I have enjoyed and found consolation in the discussions that have been part of the email chain (forum). I did attend one general meeting and found that it was informative and the people "running the show" were knowledgeable and dedicated to the tasks that had taken on. In short, well done. You and the committee have and continue to support the Strata Community in a very professional manner."

Greg, Parramatta

"Nothing is easy in Strata World and we have been in building defects “mode” for some years – hopefully almost at an end but that process has been most demanding and difficult but again – greatly helped by the experience and wise counsel of other members of OCN."

Pat, St Leonards

"Keep up the good work, as many (if not most) strata schemes need your help, advice and representation at all levels of government."

Jann and John, St Ives

"I belong to OCN because of its professionalism.  I have found the meetings I have been to extremely well presented, to the point, and of course very topical and informative. Speakers on the whole certainly know their topic.  My role of Secretary last year was certainly assisted with the coverage regarding TPG & other subjects. Member newsletters are also of benefit as the topics are specific to strata matters."

Graham, East Balmain

I have enjoyed attending the quarterly OCN meetings and the exchange of emails between other Executive Committee Members and think OCN is playing an increasingly important role as a voice for strata dwellers and representing us at Government level. I wish the organisation continuing success in the future."

Pauline, Kings Cross

"The [forum] response to my question was amazing and really useful.  The OCN community is wonderful so thanks."

Jenny, Killara

"I would like to thank you all for the important effort that you are all putting in to look after apartment owners and tenants. It is so valuable and you are heroes. I would not have been able to deal with my duties as a strata chairman without your advice and assistance." 

Angela, Mascot

"The OCN is invaluable – many thanks."

Bill, Surry Hills

"OCN is proving invaluable"

Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and has been very helpful to us"

Kate, Coogee

"When my wife & I first encountered a problematic Executive Committee I heard that OCN was a great help (from a Strata manager whom I knew) so we both joined and have gratefully used the on-line information sources. We continued to happily rely on OCN’s assistance when we progressed to Committee status & later as Chair & Secretary of our Committee. I still use OCN in my current role as Treasurer."

Peter, Chiswick

"Thanks to OCN for being such a rich resource of trustworthy information about strata matters."

Peter, Chiswick

"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for the very informative & interesting event today. The OCN team did an outstanding job in the organisation of this event & I enjoyed it thoroughly. The quality of speakers, the flow of conversation & interaction from the attendees - first class …& of course, the amazing Jimmy T - always a delight."

Sue, Epping

"OCN does a great job in providing a really valuable service to Strata owners."

Lois, Wollongong

"I am sure my appreciation of your good works is echoed by many in the Stratasphere. Keep up the good work."

John, Elizabeth Bay

"The OCN is probably one of the best, most informed and most informative groups I have been involved with."

Alan, Maryville

"Once again, being able to discuss such things through this forum, helps clear the mind, puts things into perspective and helps one to understand their rights and to form a strategy if needs be. As a simple EC member trying to do what is in the best interests of lot owners, I truly value OCN and am grateful."

Pamela, Point Lookout