System broken, but proposed fix “grossly unfair” says Airbnb

Airbnb has told a Parliamentary Inquiry rules for home sharing in Western Australia are broken and need to be fixed.

Describing the state’s rules as “outdated”, Airbnb head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand Brent Thomas claims the current legislation makes it “harder and more expensive than it should be” for West Australians to earn extra income or afford a family holiday.

“Many of the rules were written last century before the internet existed and often vary wildly between councils. At a time when local tourism is struggling, these rules are acting as a handbrake on growth,” he told the Inquiry.

But Thomas also says the one-size-fits-all approach to regulation championed by the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) is “unfair and heavy-handed”.

 “It would be grossly unfair to make someone sharing a two-bedroom home follow the same rules as a twenty-bedroom international hotel,” he argued.

“The Airbnb community in Western Australia wants fair and balanced new rules for home sharing. Common sense rules that protect people’s choice to share their home or holiday how they want, while managing issues like neighbourhood amenity and competition.”

Traditional operators struggling in the face of a slow tourism market and increased competition from the short-platform have described Airbnb as a “corporate bully”, while AHA’s WA chief Bradley Woods has talked about the “disease” of unregulated short stays across WA.

The AHA proposes limiting properties allowed to be listed on sharing platforms to a host’s primary residence and banning the listing of entire properties for stays of fewer than 14 days – a tougher approach than any legislation currently in place in NSW and Victoria.

In Airbnb’s submission to the Inquiry, the home-share giant is instead calling for the following:

  • Simple statewide rules – A clear and simple statewide regulatory framework, like there is in Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales, that protects the choice to home share responsibly.
  • Sliding scale of regulation – A nuanced approach that differentiates between a person sharing their own home or primary residence, and someone sharing their holiday home or non-primary residence more regularly.
  • Fair new powers for strata – empower strata communities with new powers to fairly manage behaviour of guests and home sharing, similar to Victoria and New South Wales.
  • Mandatory code of conduct – A new mandatory industry-wide code of conduct that is fair, reasonable and representative.

Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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  1. Seriously – any hotel or motel operator who is running scared of small operators needs to look at their product, rates and marketing – step up and offer what the market wants or sell up. The world changes – we don’t all drive Dodge 4 cylinder cars with wooden spoke wheels at 30 miles an hour!

  2. Airbnb, respect the rights of those who have sunk their life savings into homes which are clearly zoned Residential only – short-term rentals are a prohibited use or, as classified by the City of Sydney – an “Illegal Use of Premises”.
    Airbnb, respect the rights of those who run accredited accommodation businesses.
    Airbnb/Brent Thomas, stop dictating to us. You’re a US$31 billion bully.

  3. I am pretty sure I know what strata owners in Victoria and NSW think of Airbnb, and the deceptive presentation as being ‘fair and reasonable’ while threatening massively funded political campaigns against sensible regulatory measures and litigation against small councils and city governments. If they want the building why don’t they just make an offer, stick their name on it, and they can have as many ‘self-check in’ full time cheap serviced apartments as they like – no sharing involved. The fake presentation is grossly misleading, and, the impacts on strata owners young and old is getting worse. This is not democratising tourism or disrupting major hotels – it disrupts neighbourhoods and existing licensed businesses. In NSW, the Coalition Government is stripping local councils of any mechanism for controlling the scale or intensity of STL, preventing them from refusing a development application for a residential building they know will go straight to the STL market, taking away the ability to stop your own apartment building being converted into a backpacker hostel that you have the privilege to subsidize and be forced into being the onside manage…..give me a break. There is only one thing Airbnb is interested in – MONEY.

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