A convicted rapist, once branded Tasmania’s worst sex offender by a former top prosecutor, has had his Airbnb account suspended as he seeks council approval for a permit to convert his inland Hobart property to accommodation for visitors.
- Earlier in the week, Hobart City Council held a planning meeting and debated Shane Ronald Farmer’s permit application, but voted against it.
- Neighbors said the impact of the disruption to the house had been ‘immeasurable’
- In suspending Mr. Farmer’s Airbnb listing, the company said “the safety of our community is one of our top priorities.”
Former nightclub boss Shane Ronald Farmer, who drugged and sexually abused seven women at his venues in Launceston and Hobart, had applied for a visitor accommodation permit with Hobart City Council.
The house had been listed on Airbnb despite not having a municipal license, but a spokesperson for the short-stay company said today the listing has since been suspended.
“Individuals who have been convicted of certain offenses, including sexual assault, are ineligible to hold an Airbnb account, as are individuals affiliated with organized crime and extremist groups,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier in the week, Hobart City Council held a planning meeting and debated Mr Farmer’s license application, but it did not consider his criminal record.
Instead, a series of concerns raised by neighbors at Monday night’s meeting caused aldermen and councilors to vote against it.
Cedric Mannen, whose property adjoins Mr Farmer’s, told the meeting that the impact of the disruption to the home had been ‘immeasurable’, but he believed the incidents were under-reported to authorities due to the residents’ concern for their safety.
“We reported disturbances to the police, and most of our neighbors sometimes called the council for advice on the best opportunity for us to deal with this problem,” Mr Mannen said.
“It’s not the type of neighborhood I subscribed to when I moved here that’s on our doorstep now. We call it the party house, it’s become quite that.”
Short-stay home operating without a permit
Another neighbour, Claire Ellis, said Mr Farmer had shown a ‘blatant disregard’ of council rules and regulations, with the property operating as short-term accommodation in the past without a permit.
“This has seriously and significantly created a proven unreasonable loss of residential amenity and the possible approval of the permit with conditions, which we do not consider will mitigate or minimize the negative impact on us,” she said.
The application did not say whether Mr Farmer would rent the entire Sandy Bay house or list part of it while residing there.
It is understood that Mr Farmer’s parole has ended and Tasmania Police say the law prevents the organization from saying whether he is still on the state’s community protection register.
Noise detector installed to discourage parties
The property is managed by Sam Lyndon, who said a noise alarm system has been installed and the number of guests allowed has been reduced from 13 to eight.
Although the application was initially recommended for approval, it was unanimously rejected by the planning meeting.
A final decision will have to be taken by the full board.
In suspending Mr. Farmer’s Airbnb listing, the company said “the safety of our community is one of our top priorities.”
“As part of this, we apply strict policies and community standards,” the spokesperson said.
“We continue to invest in a range of systems and safeguards that enable us to protect our community and help travelers enjoy safe and positive travel experiences.”
The Airbnb spokesperson said security incidents on the platform were “very rare” and that it was working alongside police and governments to make them even more prominent.
Lack of character checks for short stay owners
Kathyrn Fordyce, chief executive of sexual assault service Laurel House, said she was concerned that there were not enough controls in place for visitor accommodation platforms to ensure that operators were of good character, especially when the operator stayed put while hiring another. part of their property.
“Internationally, there have been many reported cases of sexual assault in short-term accommodation, and in some other jurisdictions outside of Australia, background checks, including ensuring the operator does not not appear on a sex offender registry, is part of the screening process,” she said.
“This would improve women’s safety by requiring screening processes by companies and/or through local government approval for short and medium term accommodation to take into account the character of the operator and prevent persons registered in the register of community protection offenders to operate this type of accommodation. accommodation.
“The Tasmanian Government’s current determination for short-term visitor accommodation requires consideration of visitor safety in relation to building standards and bushfire risk management, but it should there should also be standards relating to the character of the operators.”
Sexual Assault Survivor Service chief executive Jill Maxwell said she hopes visitor accommodation platforms like Airbnb have the “appropriate controls in place” so people’s safety and dignity are protected.
“If someone has a history of fraud and dishonesty, that becomes quite crucial in decision-making going forward, whether they’ve had their day or not,” she said.
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