Attempting to stamp out party houses via a mandatory Code of Conduct is among a series of reforms to the short-term holiday letting (STHL) industry.
Illawarra councils will also be able decide if permitting short-term holiday letting for the entire year is acceptable for their local communities.
The state government announced its short-term holiday letting plan on Tuesday.
The government had previously sought community and stakeholder feedback regarding the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW, incorporating platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway (formerly Stayz).
The plan also includes changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act, which will allow owners’ corporations to adopt a by-law, with a 75 per cent majority, preventing short-term letting in their block if the host does not live in the unit they are letting out.
Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts said new state-wide planning rules would also come into force, including:
*Allowing STHL as exempt development 365 days per year when the host is present. This means strata committees will not have the power to prevent owner-occupiers from renting rooms within their units.
*When the host is not present, a limit for hosts to rent out properties via STHL of 180 days in Greater Sydney, with 365 days allowed in all other areas of NSW.
*Councils outside Greater Sydney having the power to decrease the 365-day threshold to no lower than 180 days per year. This means councils outside of Greater Sydney will have the power to impose their own caps, no lower than 180 days per year.
“Councils outside Greater Sydney can decide if permitting short-term holiday letting for the entire year is acceptable for their local communities,” Mr Roberts said.
“This recognises the importance of tourism in some regional communities.”
Short-term holiday letting is currently unregulated in NSW.
Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the mandatory Code of Conduct for online accommodation platforms, letting agents, hosts and guests would address impacts like noise levels, disruptive guests and effects on shared neighbourhood amenities.
The code will also include a new dispute resolution process to resolve complaints, and NSW Fair Trading will have powers to police online platforms and letting agents.
“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 years, and be listed on an exclusion register,” Mr Kean said.
Greg Channer is managing director of Emerald & Aqua, a boutique agency managing holiday accommodation from Stanwell Park to Shellharbour.
Mr Channer said they welcomed the further development of professional standards in the short-term letting industry, and on the balance believe they represented positive change.
“The community and industry will benefit from the Code of Conduct and fair repercussions for guests who’s antisocial behaviour triggered this inquiry,” he said.
“And we keenly await specific details about how the government plans to regulate the 180-day cap.
“We also believe there is still room to improve the professionalism of the industry, ensuring hosts, agents and managers are subject to the regulatory framework that govern real estate and that the community have greater safe guards such as are extended by Fair Trading.”
Meanwhile, HomeAway has called on the state government to partner with the STHL industry to further develop a policy that will not unnecessarily restrict the sector.
“HomeAway does not support the proposed regional differentiation or granting strata buildings with the power to set restrictions that infringe essential property rights of owners,” the group said in a statement.
“The restrictive night limits that have been proposed for metropolitan Sydney and regional areas risk limiting the sector, driving up the cost of accommodation and sending valuable tourism dollars to other states.”
HomeAway were critical of the government’s policy, saying it could lead to a patchwork of regulation across the state.
HomeAway’s policy recommendations include a compulsory and simple registration process of all properties listed on a short-term rental accommodation platform; and the creation of a mandatory short-term rental code of conduct for owners and managers, including a three strikes rule for those who do not meet the standards.
Airbnb’s global head of policy Chris Lehane said they welcomed the “new fair and innovative rules announced by the NSW Government which give home sharing the green light in NSW”.
“These state-wide rules strike the right balance. They protect the rights of respectful and responsible home sharers, while taking a zero tolerance stance on bad behaviour.”
According to Fairfax Media, Airbnb and other operators will be required to sign up to the code of conduct, and share their data with the NSW government.
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