The City of Sydney’s campaign against illegal hostels has just been handed a huge victory, with Downing Centre Local Court handing down a $100,000 fine against a landlord who converted part of a supermarket in Regent Street, in inner-city Chippendale into accommodation for backpackers.
Amr Hassan was convicted and fined $100,000 plus legal costs of $61,426 yesterday following an investigation by the council’s investigative strikeforce.
The council enlisted a former Scotland Yard detective, a former NSW police officer and ex military police officer 12 months ago as part of a team targeting illegal short-term accommodation.
The strike force has inspected more than 100 separate premises and issued over 80 notices and orders and issued fines totalling $75,000. It is currently undertaking criminal proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court in relation to unauthorised use of an industrial estate for short-term accommodation.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the council had been ramping up its efforts to close down illegal hostels.
“This case sends a message that illegal, dangerous accommodation networks will not be tolerated in the city, and the people who profit from them will be prosecuted,” she said.
Roy Cottam, the former Scotland Yard detective, said Amr Hassan had established the largest syndicate of unsafe and illegal accommodation the council had identified so far.
“This is a fantastic result for the City particularly in light of the lengths the defendant was prepared to go to in order to avoid liability” he said.
The council crackdown on illegal accommodation followed increasing complaints from residents that hostels were operating around the city.
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