(Verbal Question, 6 August 2014, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I direct my question to the Premier. What action will the Government take to stop illegal short-term letting and dangerous overcrowding in strata buildings given councils can be refused entry to inspect premises, the process to get a warrant gives operators time to hide evidence, and there is no statutory definition of "overcrowding"?
Mike Baird's Response:
I thank the member for Sydney for his question and his interest in this issue. The Government is listening to concerns across the local government sector and the Minister for Local Government is working closely with the sector to ascertain what enhancements can be made. The Government is also happy to engage with the member for Sydney as to his specific concerns. The Government is open to any additional actions that might be required, but local councils have existing powers. I encourage councils to use those existing powers to enforce the conditions of development consent and any relevant local environmental plans that may prohibit or set conditions on short-term lettings in a particular area.
Councils are able to specify the types of activities that constitute lawful use of lots, which include whether serviced apartments or holiday accommodation are permitted. Similarly, councils may limit occupancy numbers for a residential development as a condition of development consent. I have been advised—and I am to be advised by the City of Sydney council if this is not the case—that in 2006 the City of Sydney council introduced a condition of consent for newly built apartments limiting the number of adult occupants per bedroom to two. However, to date it appears that no court action to enforce this condition has been taken by the City of Sydney council.
As part of our deliberations I want to understand why that is not happening and whether that is common across other councils. I also want to be advised as to what action the State Government can take. The Minister for Local Government is listening to concerns across the sector. The member for Sydney can directly engage with the Minister but the Government is taking a twofold approach: Are councils using their existing provisions adequately? Can those provisions be strengthened and enhanced? The Government is happy to have that discussion and work with the sector.