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Local Residents Want Increased Regulation of Short-Term Rental Accommodation

By Siriol Dafydd on November 25, 2019 in News

It’s only a matter of time, by Dakota Planning.

A letter recently published by The Beast has struck a chord with some readers. The letter, titled Bondi’s Latest Clandestine Backpackers Hostel, was written by the self-proclaimed “very disgruntled, sleep deprived and unfortunate neighbour” of a building that had recently been converted into short-term rental flats.
The letter claimed that this building is now home to “48 short-term dwellers (backpackers from South America – countries like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, et al.) whose aim is to party on like there’s no tomorrow, no matter what day of the week it is.”
In response to this letter, we heard from others experiencing similar issues. One concerned resident on Beach Road said, “We have a building next door to us in Bondi and it’s party central Monday to Sunday from 10pm until 5am.”
Another Beach Road resident told us they neighbour a building which seems to be operating as an unofficial backpackers.
“Observably, the residents stay from a few days to three months. New tenants arrive at ten in the evening, and the demographic is predominantly Brazilian, and less so British persons. The general age of the residents ranges from eighteen to twenty-five years of age,” they said.
“My mother is 70-plus years of age and she is intending on moving from her home, a place she cherishes. She is emotionally and physically devastated.”
A disgruntled neighbour to similar buildings in North Bondi told The Beast that owners are “basically skirting around Council and legislation to run a backpackers, but with no management or accountability, and total disregard for community.”
Some of the issues reported include constant noise, screaming, partying, verbal abuse, furniture and rubbish dumped in front gardens and even one instance of people having sex on the front fence (ouch?!). But despite complaints to Waverley Council and the Police, these disturbances have apparently continued, causing some residents to move away or sell their homes.
I originally came to this country on a backpacker visa. I’ve never fornicated on a fence, but I do have more than my fair share of South American friends and have been known to shake my booty (poorly) to Reggaeton on many Saturday nights. But there’s a time and a place for this, and 5am on a Tuesday morning on a residential street is not it.
This issue has nothing to do with where these backpackers come from, their age, or even the fact that they are backpackers. Like it or not, Bondi will always cater on some level to short-term dwellers.
The problem here is seemingly insufficient regulation regarding the management of short-term accommodation in Bondi. After all, according to our reader’s original letter, a Bondi real estate business (who we’ve chosen not to name) legally obtained permission to convert the Ocean Road flats.
We reached out to this business who told us, via their lawyers, “All tenants at the Property have been informed of the legal requirements regarding minimum noise levels after 10.00pm and that [unnamed business] contacts each of the tenants if they receive excessive complaints from their neighbours. Additionally, [the business]’s standard leases for the property contain relevant clauses in the special conditions regarding noise level obligations for all tenants at the property.”
The real estate business confirmed that all renovations were carried out under the guidance of a private certifier who issued a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) to Waverley Council. Under current regulations, nearby residents do not need to be consulted when works are done under a CDC. They also added that most leases for the property in question are either 6 or 12 months. Some are less than 6 months but none are less than 3-month lease terms.
Meanwhile, over at Lamrock Avenue, residents are trying to prevent similar issues occurring. In May, a Development Application (DA) was submitted by a developer to build a boarding house at 15-17 Lamrock Avenue. If the development goes ahead it will produce a 94-bedroom property right next to a 116-bedroom hostel on an otherwise residential street. According to some locals, the neighbouring hostel had a long history of problems which took consistent resident involvement to resolve and residents are concerned that having both establishments in close proximity could be a step backwards and a recipe for disaster.
Local resident Haydn Keenan opposes the development.
“These boarding houses are allegedly for low income occupants and in exchange for that the developer gets to provide rooms much smaller than regulation normally requires and are potentially exempt from land tax,” he told The Beast.
“However with no oversight of whether the occupants are indeed low income, locals are concerned it will become backpackers or tourist accommodation.”
In this instance, local residents were notified of the proposed development, after which a petition of over 250 signatures was sent to Council along with over 80 individual objections to the DA. We reached out to Waverley Council who said the DA will be referred to the Waverley Local Planning Panel (WLPP).

“The WLPP allows the public to address it directly and argue their objections/support accordingly. Residents and community members are encouraged to register to address the WLPP directly when this DA comes before the WLPP. All those who have written to Council about this DA will be notified of the hearing date once it is set,” Council explained.
However, some still have concerns that, should the DA be rejected, the developer could choose to go to the NSW Land and Environment Court where only Council can appear. Here, despite the fact that Section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act requires the impact on locals to be taken into account, residents worry their voices won’t be heard.
There’s plenty of room for short-term and low income residents in Bondi, but in order for us all to enjoy this wonderful suburb we need better regulations. If developers want to capitalise on Bondi’s appeal to visitors by offering short-term accommodation, they should be able to do so but it’s crucial that this is done in a way that is fair to other residents.
“Predominantly, owners of development sites throughout the Waverley Local Government Area have chosen to utilise the services of a private certifier,” a Waverley Council spokesperson said.
“Council believes there are many flaws in the complying development process including that private certifiers are not required to notify Council or neighbouring properties prior to issuing their decision about development consent. The process also by-passes Council’s development application assessment regime.”
“Nevertheless, it is Council’s responsibility to investigate matters concerning these premises and complaints should be made to Council’s Customer Service on 9083 8000.”
At the moment, it seems that what’s legal and fair game for the property owners isn’t necessarily pleasant for residents. The travel industry has changed massively in recent years and with the likes of Airbnb widely available, most residential buildings now have the potential to be used as short-term accommodation in some capacity. Perhaps it is time for more regulation, all the way from development proposals to compliance regarding ongoing management and complaint investigations, in order to catch up.
Until that happens, as all parties involved are doing their due diligence on paper, frustrated neighbours to incessant partying must continue to play ping pong with police, property managers and Council, and hope that someone, somewhere, takes action on their behalf.

13 COMMENTS. SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  1. As a Brazilian and backpacker, I’m ashamed!
    But first, I’d like to comment on the poorly choice of the image and caption. It’s completely incorrect to use a photo of slum. You have no idea what it is and all the aspects (political, economic, and social) that it includes!
    Second, fine$ are the only way to teach this people!
    Third, some prohibitions should be done. Renting prices in Bondi are exorbitant, which turns a house of 3 rooms to have 15 people living in it
    Another point, my perception. The council and the police in this country are not very efficient

    Posted by: Renata | November 25, 2019, 4:01 PM |

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    • I totally agree with you!

      Posted by: Larissa | November 25, 2019, 5:07 PM |

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      • I totally agree with you. The choice of the picture was inappropriate. Also Sydney is not only sou rounded by beautiful places as the Eastern Suburbs do. Take a look at the more remote areas and you will find the true. “Struggle Street” it is a proof that bot only where backpackers or foreigners live is mess.

        Posted by: Flavia | November 25, 2019, 5:21 PM |

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  2. As a Brazilian, living in Sydney and more specifically in Bondi for the past 7plus years, I have witnessed all sorts of parties and bad behaviour around the beach and suburb. I strongly agree that parties and loud gatherings must end by 10pm and also take in consideration neighbours, elderly and children. But while reading this article, I could not ignore the fact that brazilians are specifically being targeted here, throughout the article, and also on the very poor choice of image right on top of the page! The photo shows a Favela, tipical brazilian slums, where large amounts of people with close to no income, no access to running water or sewage treatment live. Favelas are not party centres, its a place where very unprivileged people spend all of their lives, something that no one in Australia will ever understand.
    There is no evidence provided that proves that all loud parties around Bondi are being thrown by brazilians or south americans, the party culture in Bondi goes far beyond that! Tons of European backpackers live in the Western suburbs and party as hard as any other nationality! I have also witnessed many australians behaving very poorly and disrespectfully in different occasions, which makes me believe that parties around Bondi do not have a specific nationality to blame!! All the finger pointing brings zero solution to the problem, and it only creates hatred (and i dare to say xenophobia) towards specific groups of people!

    Posted by: Vitoria | November 25, 2019, 4:39 PM |

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    • Thank you Vitória, for writing so well what I was thinking. I have been here 11 years and never ever woke up with any Portuguese speakers screaming or loud music. Was always the totally the opposite. Most of the time is my Australian neighbours fighting. What a poor choice this picture. 🙁

      Posted by: Cintya Silva | November 25, 2019, 9:57 PM |

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  3. Would you please be clear what the subtitle “It’s only a matter of time, by Dakota Planning.” and a Favela as a cover photo have to do with this article? Is this somehow implying that Brazilians, in a matter of time will transform Bondi into a Favela?

    Not taking away the sad facts… but to be true, same party ppl that are there today … wont be there in 2, 3 months, actions need to be taken to those who sublocate to 78 dwellers … and what about the hoarders there are bring trash and disease … Bondi has other issues and if it is becoming a Favela it is more because the hoarders. https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/home/inside-the-house-of-horrors-the-nations-most-notorious-hoarders-the-bobolas-family-of-bondi-reveals-they-are-really-neat-freaks/news-story/78eefb60693a79178a07bbe985a6f5c6

    Posted by: Marina | November 25, 2019, 4:54 PM |

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  4. Dakota Planning, you are xenophobic and racist

    Posted by: Luana | November 25, 2019, 5:22 PM |

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  5. The article should be reviewed by someone more professional before to post it. In first place accusing some nationality without to present the source/ data to proof that sounds xenophobic and poor.
    Why did you choose a “favela” as image for this article? The favela’s problems are way bigger than parties, most of people don have access to sanitation, good quality of water, incomes, etc. it is very sad.
    The article could be more interesting if you focus on the problem/solution than just point your finger to South American community. The parties in Australia it is not something that just South Americans do and should be controlled by the authorities.

    Posted by: Thaisa | November 25, 2019, 6:01 PM |

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  6. What a stupid article. Sorry. Could u specify what u wrote???

    Posted by: Caroline A | November 25, 2019, 7:20 PM |

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  7. This article is disgraceful. Where is the evidence that all the issues claimed in this paper were caused by Brazilians? Is there a council or police report to prove where those people are coming from?
    To begin with, the majority of Brazilians are here in a student visa, partying Monday to Sunday is definitely not the profile of someone studying full time. Different from does in tourist and work holiday visa wich brazilians make a small percentage. If you had at least researched about what is the profile of international students living in this country you probably would not be writing such blasphemy. Bondi receives backpackers from all over the world, most of them, party, drink and disturb the neighbours around the area. Why South Americans are the only ones targeted here?

    Furthermore disrespectful and discriminatory use of a Favela image, linked to inappropriate behaviuor. Favela is the home of disadvantaged people, struggling every day to survive from violence, poverty, traffic and discrimination. The fact that someone resides in a Favela does not mean they are not educated and not able to live in the community, respecting rules. They are miles away to have the same privileges that Bondi residents have access to.

    I understand the issues pointed by Bondi residents and I agree that new regulations are needed for the sake of all neighbourhood. However being Brazilian I feel attacked by this xenophobic article. I have been a resident of Eastern Suburbs for many years and I do not fit into the stereotype cited in this article. It only increases discrimination and hate against migrants.

    Posted by: Silva | November 26, 2019, 7:05 AM |

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  8. This article is completely outrageous and racist and xenophobic…

    Posted by: Marcela Falcao | November 26, 2019, 1:08 PM |

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  9. Dakota Planning, first of all, what a terrible state of mind to choose a photo of a favela in Rio to illustrate this article and write “It’s only a matter of time”. It clearly demonstrates that you don’t have any idea what a favela is, a part from your own personal opinion that is probably based in a lot of prejudice and misconception. The comparison of what Bondi can turn into and a favela is abhorrent. You showed no consideration for the real people who live in a favela, you had no respect for the concept and stories of the favelas. Your attitude was revolting. Favela is the home of disadvantage people that even with all the struggles and historical governmental neglect, survive day by day from violence, poverty, traffic and discrimination. It is repulsive the fact that you even had a sudden idea that Bondi would turn into a favela. You don’t know what poverty, violence, deprivation and discrimination on a daily basis mean (and you probably will never will). You don’t have any idea how is to live sometimes without the basic conditions of a human being to live, and now here you are comparing the future of Bondi to what it is. It is disgraceful.

    About the article, there is a problem and it must be solved but I need to ask you attention to how you properly bring this issue. This is a subject that requires a lot (a lot) of sensitivity and a very careful approach to avoid uprising feelings that are already present in our society (racism, xenophobe and discrimination).

    NO ONE WANTS A NEW CRONULLA RIOTS.

    Even after your affirmation that “this issue has nothing to do with where these backpackers come from, their age, or even the fact that they are backpackers”, South Americans may have felt targeted as the letter published by The Beast specifically talked only about them. And any person who has been to Bondi probably noticed that is one of the most diverse places in Sydney with people from different backgrounds. And again, I focus here on the importance on approaching this subject as it is terribly delicate and can cause horrendous consequences.

    And we definitely do not wants to revive those feelings that triggered into a racially motivated civil conflict. And I hope the authorities, police, property managers and Council act to solve this issue now changing the regulation, development proposals, compliance regarding ongoing management and complaint investigations, instead leaving the heat on until explodes.

    Posted by: Larissa Lima | November 26, 2019, 6:28 PM |

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    • This issue could have been addressed in a very professional way but instead it has been written with a heavy misconception about several things. How unfortunate. Poor choice of picture that doesn’t relate at all with the problem. A lot of ugly finger pointing to South Americans that are parting as much as Europeans, asians, Africans, Americans, etc Australians included. We should always be kind on our words and responsible in our actions. The same disrespect showed by whoever is parting was showed by whoever wrote this article. It’s really a shame that the sense of community claimed to be lost in Bondi was also lost in this article. We need more kindness, more comprehension and more love. Not more prejudice.

      Posted by: Lo Couto | November 26, 2019, 8:36 PM |

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