The onset of the ‘share econ­o­my’ has seen a num­ber of dis­rup­tive online book­ing plat­forms such as AirBNB shake up the short-term accom­mo­da­tion indus­try and this has result­ed in a call for stricter leg­is­la­tion.

It appears the leg­is­la­tors are lis­ten­ing.  A three pronged approach has been pro­posed entail­ing:

  1. A code of con­duct for agents, hosts and guests
  2. Increas­ing own­ers’ abil­i­ty with­in stra­ta cor­po­ra­tions to lim­it AirBNB type uses of lots
  3. Giv­ing Coun­cils greater plan­ning pow­ers in rela­tion to this type of use.

The NSW Min­is­ter for Inno­va­tion and Bet­ter Reg­u­la­tion, Mr Kean, announced ear­li­er this month a few changes to short-term let­ting in NSW, an indus­try that on some esti­mates con­tributes $31 bil­lion per year to the Aus­tralian econ­o­my.

Part of these reforms is the intro­duc­tion of a manda­to­ry Code of Con­duct that will gov­ern online accom­mo­da­tion plat­forms.

The Government’s short-term hol­i­day let­ting plan will sup­port the shar­ing econ­o­my and give con­sumers more choice while crack­ing down on bad behav­iour”, Mr Kean said.

The manda­to­ry Code will cov­er let­ting agents, hosts and guests will address impacts like noise lev­els, dis­rup­tive guests and effects on shared neigh­bour­hood ameni­ties.

While NSW Fair Trad­ing will have pow­ers to police online plat­forms and let­ting agents, the Code will also include a new dis­pute res­o­lu­tion process to resolve com­plaints.

Under our ‘two strikes and you’re out’ pol­i­cy, hosts or guests who com­mit two seri­ous breach­es of the Code with­in two years will be banned for five, and be list­ed on an exclu­sion reg­is­ter,” Mr Kean said.

These pro­vi­sions strike the appro­pri­ate bal­ance between per­mit­ting indi­vid­u­als to use their homes with­in rea­son­able lim­its with the need to pro­tect the inter­ests of neigh­bours,” said Kean.

It is to be seen whether such an approach will have any effect on guests who may be able to use the iden­ti­ty of oth­ers to book prop­er­ties.

Addi­tion­al­ly, under this new rule, stra­ta own­er cor­po­ra­tions will have the pow­er to intro­duce by-laws, poten­tial­ly pre­vent­ing short-term let­ting in their block if the host does not live in the unit they are let­ting out.

In a press release, Min­is­ter for Plan­ning and Hous­ing Antho­ny Roberts said new state-wide plan­ning rules would also code into force, includ­ing:

  • Allow­ing short-term hol­i­day let­ting as exempt devel­op­ment 365 days per year when the host is present;
  • When the host is not present, a lim­it for hosts to rent out prop­er­ties via short-term hol­i­day let­ting of 180 days in Greater Syd­ney, with 365 days allowed in all oth­er areas of New South Wales;
  • Coun­cils out­side Greater Syd­ney hav­ing the pow­er to decrease the 365 day thresh­old to no low­er than 180 days per year; and,
  • Cer­tain plan­ning rules will apply to prop­er­ties on bush­fire prone land.
  • The changes also lim­it hosts based in the greater Syd­ney area to rent out their homes for up to 180 nights a year

The 180 days a year lim­it approx­i­mate­ly equates to week­ends, school hol­i­days and pub­lic hol­i­days which allows let­ting agents and accom­mo­da­tion providers a fair chance to let out their prop­er­ties.

These changes will be rel­e­vant for many in our region.  Stra­ta man­agers and own­ers cor­po­ra­tions, in par­tic­u­lar, will need to under­stand what they may do to respond if AirBNB hosts and guests are adverse­ly affect­ing their lifestyle and the lim­its that may be imposed.

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