Ratepayers fund Airbnb ‘party house’ stakeout
A COUNCIL spent ratepayers' money for a private investigator to stake out an Airbnb house notorious for illegally hosting sexy parties and weddings, court documents state.
Gold Coast City Council's lawyers engaged the investigator to prove parties were still being held at the sprawling hinterland property despite the owner being advised they were unlawful.
The Tallai property is alleged to have come to the attention of the council after a Sexpo promotional party in August or September.
The council alleges in the Planning and Environment Court that the 12-bedroom Wings Hinterland Retreat hosted five weddings or birthdays in October and November despite the council launching legal action in October.
The council alleges the functions were held despite the owner, life coach Blair Nathan Harding, allegedly firing off an angry Facebook post to Cr Glenn Tozer on November 24, stating: "We are not a party house."
Mr Harding's post was made on the same day The Sunday Mail published details of the council's bid to have the millionaire's Airbnb party house shut down.
Mr Harding was served notice of the legal action on October 1, alleging his actions are unlawful because he does not have approval, court documents state.
"I don't do weddings or parties or events at all since council notified me I need a DA," Mr Harding posted on Cr Tozer's Facebook page on November 24, court documents state.
"We live on site and there is no way we allow that. I'm in favour of banning or regulating 'party houses'. We are not a party house so I would prefer you stop referring to Wings as one."
But a solicitor for the council stated in court documents that, since Mr Harding was served on October 1, he had hosted five weddings or parties - two in October and three in November. The affidavit says she relied on social media posts by guests to prove parties and weddings were held.
The lawyers also hired Devaney Investigations to spy on a wedding there on November 23, with 30 videos and a report filed as exhibits.
The council also alleges Mr Harding, who is listed as manager on Stayz and host on Airbnb, deliberately broke planning laws by renting the house for at least 16 weddings, conferences and bucks parties, to up to 50 people in the past two years.
A solicitor for the council told the court that, on November 25, the home's Airbnb listing stated it was happy to host birthdays, family reunions, retreats and small weddings and charged $2500 for more than 40 guests.
The listing also stated no weddings or bucks parties or function of any description.
But the next day the solicitor says the listing was changed to ban events, with a $2000 fine for breaking the ban.
On November 26, a different site still offered the home for small weddings and birthdays, the affidavit says.
Guests in November for a 40th birthday party complained on website TripAdvisor they were harassed and threatened by managers over noise, court documents state.
Mr Harding responded, telling guests parties and noise after 10pm were not tolerated, court documents state.
The case is due in the Planning and Environment Court in Southport on January 31 and has been set down for a three-day hearing starting February 17.
Mr Harding has until January 13 to file affidavits.
He has not responded to requests for comment.