TO be as kind as possible to the State Government I will assume their recent decisions on short term rentals and hearty embrace of Airbnb are based in ignorance.
Ignorance because there is extensive evidence from the cities of the world of the deleterious effects of the conversion of rental properties to short term stay accommodation.
Every city from Berlin to San Francisco is experiencing the negative effects of reducing rental opportunities and forcing residents out of traditional rental areas.
It is particularly damaging for cities experiencing tourism booms where the affluent can purchase additional properties at the expense of those who are seeking a place to live.
Do we want to see the end of University students and the diversity they bring to the suburbs of Hobart forced out for temporary stays?
Do we want to see Battery Point converted to a tourist village at the expense of the mix of people who currently live there?
What of the economics for a city like Hobart and its development as a university town when rental prices are skyrocketing and it is no longer seen as desirable because the opportunity to live in the close to city suburbs are for tourists only.
At a time when rental properties in Hobart are scarce why would we enact more Government policy to exacerbate the situation and damage our ability to attract international students, so important to Hobart’s biggest employer?
Healthy communities are ones with a mix of people in age, education and wealth and yet State Government policies are socially engineering a mono culture by allowing unrestricted conversion of properties.
What of the older citizen who downsizes and chooses an apartment in a complex with a body corporate to support a secure lifestyle.
With AirBnb conversions they suddenly find themselves living in the equivalent of a motel with no knowledge of their neighbours.
Visitors coming and going at all hours and using what were residents’ facilities.
One lady rang me to tell of the regular knocks on the door late at night from her rapidly changing neighbours seeking all manner of things to assist their short term stay.
At a time when we see downsizing for older citizens desirable, why would we not protect their right to feel secure, consistent with the lifestyle they thought they were purchasing.
With a shortage of rentals available it makes no sense to support property conversions to short term stay particularly as the number of days that the property will be lived in will most likely be less than current use.
Wise governance would mean looking at many cities around the world and how they are in damage control trying to stop the destructive impacts of forcing renters out of city suburbs.
The Tasmanian Government needs to be much smarter on this and not allow our suburbs to be socially engineered for the worse and at the expense of the 30 per cent plus of people who rent.
Philip Cocker is a Hobart City Council alderman.