Good for hostels? – NSW government to impose 180-night cap on Airbnb properties in SydneyJune 6th, 2018 | | Accommodation
The NSW government will impose a 180-day cap on the number of days empty properties can be rented in Sydney, and will give strata corporations the power to ban Airbnb in their buildings. The reforms will implement a two-strike policy, which would see hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the code within two years banned from using Airbnb and other similar platforms for five years, and placed on an exclusion register.
Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean (pictured) described the reforms as the “toughest laws in world to crack down on bad behaviour” in the short-term letting industry.
Short-term holiday letting is currently unregulated in NSW.
“We’ve got the balance right between protecting people’s property rights, between recognising owner’s corporations have a role to play in the governance of strata schemes, and ensuring people who want to use these platforms like Airbnb are able to do so,” Mr Kean said.
New planning laws, which will be introduced in coming months, will impose a 180-day cap on properties used for Airbnb-style letting in greater Sydney when hosts are not present, with no caps across the rest of the state.
Councils outside of greater Sydney will have the power to impose their own caps, no lower than 180 days per year.
Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the Sydney cap was designed to mitigate against potential “unintended consequences” on rental affordability.
The policy will be reviewed in 12 months.
The reforms also include changes to strata legislation to empower owner’s corporations to pass bylaws banning short-term letting in their buildings, but not on properties which are owner-occupied. Strata committees will not have the power to prevent owner-occupiers from renting rooms within their units.
As a compliance mechanism, Airbnb and other operators will be required to sign up to the code of conduct, and share their data with the NSW government.
The Department of Fair Trading will also be given new powers to police the online platforms and letting agents, and will use the data supplied by the platforms to assess complaints to determine whether a strike should be issued.
Companies which breach the code of conduct or the strikes policy will face significant financial penalties, including fines of up to $1.1 million for corporations and $220,000 for individuals.
Airbnb’s Global Head of Policy Chris Lehane championed the reforms as a potential “world model” for the industry, describing them as “fair and balanced”. He said Airbnb was comfortable with sharing its data with government agencies.
“We’ve passed over 500 government partnerships around the world, many many of those include sharing data,” Mr Lehane said.
Rival holiday-rental giant, HomeAway, which operates Stayz, was critical of the policy, saying it could lead to a patchwork of regulation across the state and create six-month limits on short-term rental across NSW.
Director of Corporate Affairs, Eacham Curry, said the government was seeking “to arbitrarily impose restrictions on the use of private property” and slammed the new strata powers as a “retrograde step”.
„Further, the distinction between hosted and un-hosted accommodation will unnecessarily tilt the playing field in one direction, to detriment of many mum and dad investors across the State,” he said.
A spokeswoman from Tourism Accommodation Australia described the reforms as a “light touch regulation” and called for the code to include stronger controls beyond bad behaviour, such as fire safety and security measures.
Mr Kean said the code would be developed over the coming weeks in consultation with industry groups and interested parties.
The reforms, signed off by a joint meeting of the Coalition partyroom on Tuesday, followed a failed attempt two weeks ago to broker a compromise, prompting the government to delay the reforms.
Mr Kean was forced to go back and consult with the government’s backbench after numerous MPs revolted over the initial cabinet-approved policy, which proposed only the 180-day cap and gave no power to strata committees.
One MP said the changes were “never going to be perfect” but were a “reasonable compromise”.
“I think most people felt that we had reached a much better compromise than where we were last party room and the minister [Matt Kean] had gone against what he initially wanted to get this compromise,” the MP said.