Good for hostels? – NSW government to impose 180-night cap on Airbnb properties in Sydney

June 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.

Source: SMH

2 Responses

  1. Chris Harrison says:

    Queenstown, whose mayor says it has 120 visitors a year for every taxpayer, is weighing whether to restrict Airbnb rentals.

  2. Chris Wilson says:

    “Good for hostels? – NSW government to impose 180-night cap on Airbnb properties in Sydney”
    This is Government properganda at its worst. Our Residential Housing is the best regulated in the world plus we have so much in the way of Land and Environment Court case law. The issue: Our Legislators across NSW have refused to enforce Residential Zoning. There are a hundred and one ways to circumvent a ‘cap’ of 180 days aka six months. Websites and Facebook Groups are abuzz with information on how this can be easily done. Any class 1(a) property where the owner wants to rent the premises for less than three months can apply for a change in DA with neighbours approval, but they must upgrade the premises to a Class 1(b) or Class 3 building to meet ALL building code/other safety legislation PLUS pay FULL commercial rates. Many have done this. Nearly all of those using Airbnb/Expedia and similar platforms are using the platforms to circumvent our ‘world’s best’ legislation, avoid paying their due way plus shunning true housesharing because any co-tenant’s rental contribution is deemed “insufficient”. That’s the truth of it. Many a State Politician – from the Deputy Premier down – is profiting enormously from the “Illegal Use of Residential Premises”/Short-Term Tourist/Visitor Rentals, hence this ‘open doors’ policy being put forward by our NSW State Ministers. No retrospective rezoning of our houses and suburbs Ministers! Hear us?
    Licensed accommodation providers have our full support.