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Industry backlash following ‘leaked’ NSW parliament decision to back Airbnb

Australia’s accommodation sector has rejected the recommendations of a NSW Legislative Assembly Committee Inquiry into short-term letting – leaked to the media this weekend in advance of tabling before parliament – saying that if the reported recommendations were correct they would put consumers at risk and favour commercial landlords over residential communities across the state.

Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) called on the NSW Parliament to reject the recommendations of the Legislative Assembly Committee, saying that while it did not oppose ‘genuine’ sharing – where a resident-owner rented out a room in their property – any relaxation of rules relating to full properties would simply benefit commercial landlords, reduce the availability of long-term rental accommodation, and totally disrupt neighbourhoods and communities.

TAA said that it was imperative for the NSW Government to ensure that commercial landlords renting out full apartments and houses for short-term stays met appropriate safety, insurance, strata, building body corporate, council and other regulations.

While the Inquiry – according to the leaked reports – did address the issue of “party houses”, TAA argues that the NSW Inquiry ignored the majority of overseas and industry evidence which clearly highlighted the detrimental effects caused by the unfettered growth of unregulated short term accommodation.

Cities such as San Francisco, New York, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, have all implemented strict measures to curb unregulated operators because of its damaging impact on affordable housing and rentals, and the serious disruption to communities.

In a statement, TAA CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said she was disappointed that the Legislative Assembly Committee Inquiry had reportedly disregarded the extensive evidence that a number of organisations had presented highlighting the need for regulation of commercial operators.

“We are not against genuine ‘sharing’ whereby a resident shares out their house or apartment, but we are fully opposed to any relaxation of regulations that will allow non-resident commercial property investors – especially multiple-property owners – to rent out full apartments or houses for short term stays,” said Ms Giuseppi.

“Such a decision will have serious implications for resident owners and long-term renters in apartment blocks which are effectively turned into ‘quasi hotels’. It will lead to overcrowding, potential safety and insurance issues, parking problems and, most importantly, higher rents and lower availability for long-term renters.

“Research shows that 37% of Airbnb listings in Sydney are available 365 days a year, and being operated as a fully commercial property business, while InsideAirbnbestimated that 61% of Sydney listings were for full houses or apartments, involving no ‘sharing’.

“The proliferation of the unregulated short-term accommodation sector has already seen other major cities introduce measures to restrict commercial landlords from exploiting what started out as a ‘sharing’ innovation, but has evolved into a multi-billion dollar global industry with property owners using the new online channels to rent out accommodation that would have previously been offered to long-term renters.

“We call on the NSW Government to reject the recommendations of the Inquiry and introduce a new framework that makes it easier for those engaging in genuine ‘home sharing’, but introduces strict new laws to regulate those engaged in commercial short-term rentals.”

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