Tourism

NSW government cracks down on Airbnb with new owner limits

Laine Fullerton

The NSW Government has reached a compromise on laws surrounding short-term holiday rentals, just weeks after Fair Trading Minister Matt Kean cancelled the initial press conference announcing the changes due to strong opposition.

And since the restrictions were announced, we still remain curious on what limits the government will place on NaturistBnB, the nudist version of Airbnb.

Curious GIF

The new restrictions will give strata owner corporations the power to pass by-laws that prevent short-term rentals in their block if the host does not live in the unit they are renting out, consequently targeting investors who buy apartments solely to rent out on Airbnb.

This is a compromise position as Kean previously tried to enact changes that did not allow strata owner corporations to prevent the use of Airbnb in their buildings.

As per the ABC, Kean said: “We’ve been grappling with how to regulate this industry for a little over two years.”

“There is genuinely a diversity of opinion across both the partyroom and community… but I’m confident this package has got the balance right.”

While owner-occupiers can continue to rent out spare rooms or units while they are away, hosts based in the greater Sydney region can only rent these out for no more than 180 days a year.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts believes this move will ensure there are no negative impacts on rental affordability.

“Sydney has a huge rental market and we don’t want to see any unintended consequences,” he said.

While no cap will be enforced in regional areas, councils can choose to impose their own limits.

As well as this, a mandatory code of conduct will be implemented in an effort to curb community concerns like noise levels and will be assessed by independent adjudicators appointed by NSW Fair Trading.

Fines for guests who breach the code could exceed $200,000, as well as a five-year ban from using any short-term holiday platforms for guests who commit two serious breaches within two years.

Hosts will face the same ban fate, however, much heftier fines apply potentially reaching $1.1 million.

Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand implied that the company is supportive of the decision.

“This is a watershed moment for the Airbnb community who here in New South Wales, have welcomed more than 1.6 million guests in the last 12 months,” he said.

Tourism Accommodation CEO Carol Guiseppi believes the new restrictions only go part of the way.

“While the accommodation industry recognises the settings are a step in the right direction and do provide strata controls, we believe the key to getting the settings more balanced is ensuring the mandatory Code of Conduct is properly enforced,” she said.

“We believe the key to actual implementation will be ensuring the code is developed with stronger controls, beyond that of regulating bad behaviour.”

Guiseppi also said effective and transparent monitoring needs to be established.

“A mooted 12-month review is not possible without appropriate monitoring,” she said.

“Cities around the world have recognised the only way to properly regulate is to put in place a registration scheme to monitor and report on changes in community and the impacts.”



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