Illawarra agency weighs in on new short-term holiday letting industry laws

Reforms to the short-term holiday letting industry need to include measures to address “party houses”, an Illawarra agency says. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was forced to delay reforms to platforms such as Airbnb after backbenchers refused to back laws capping the number of days homes could be rented.

The government cancelled its planned announcement on Tuesday after a joint Coalition party room meeting could not agree on the proposed changes, which had been passed by cabinet last week.

A joint cabinet submission from Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean and Planning Minister Anthony Roberts recommended imposing a cap of 180 days on properties used for Airbnb-style letting in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, but no caps in regional areas.

Under the government’s policy, individual strata committees would have no power to ban Airbnb in their buildings.

In regional areas, the government would apply default policy of no daily caps on Airbnb-style letting, but councils would have the power to introduce caps of up to 180 days.

Greg Channer is managing director of Emerald & Aqua, a boutique agency managing holiday accommodation from Stanwell Park to Shellharbour.  

Mr Channer said the short-term rental accommodation industry is a key part of the visitor and tourist economy of regional cities.

“We have all read of rogue operators and well-publicised stories of party houses where the impacts of anti-social behaviour of guests holding parties in residential areas affect community areas,” he said. 

Mr Channer said they welcomed a regulatory and industry environment that provides certainty to the industry, as well as consumer and community protection.

Greg Channer.

Greg Channer.

Mr Channer said they are supportive of any recommendations that include holiday homes being required to adhere to a strict code of conduct; holiday homes being registered and managed by licensed operators; and a system for guests who have misused a property such as hosting unapproved parties and who are responsible for anti-social behaviour, so they do not go on and rent and abuse other holiday homes.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and Kiama MP Gareth Ward declined to comment regarding his party room address on the matter. 

However, he said his view remained that “for people that are in short-term accommodation we need sensible safeguards, so that we have protections so that people are attracting sensible clientele”.

“I think those protections are important so that people get the right clients in, but at the same time there is a penalty for those that do the wrong thing,” he said. 

“If people are not responsible and have noisy party after noisy party and disturb residents, then that’s not on either. 

“We want some sensible safeguards which presently don’t exist.”