“Important step forward”: Accom hails NSW short stay plan

Changes designed to tackle NSW’s rogue short stay operators went to public consultation this week, with the industry hailing them a “start to the process of creating a level playing field”.

In its short-term rental accommodation discussion paper, the NSW government says the policy “seeks to enable local economies to continue to benefit from the STRA, while protecting communities from anti-social behaviour such as increased noise for neighbours”.

The paper says: “The short-term rental accommodation (STRA) industry was estimated to be worth $31.3 billion nationally in 2016. NSW’s share equalled approximately 50 percent of that figure, with STRA creating jobs, benefiting the economy and providing income for property owners.

“At the same time, the NSW Government has also heard that STRA can cause problems for communities if not adequately managed.”

As part of its consultation, the state government will be seeking feedback on:

  • A code of conduct for the sector
  • Regulations supporting the code’s implementation
  • Planning instruments providing a state-wide definition of STRA and setting out conditions under which properties can be used as short-stay rentals.
  • Application of a fire safety standard to all dwellings used for STRA
  • Introduction of an industry-led register of STRA premises.

Airbnb’s public affairs manager Julian Crowley said the home share platform would continue to work closely with the state government on finalising “fair rules for home sharing that protect locals’ choice” and would carefully review the draft framework.

The Accommodation Association of Australia, part of the advisory committee which helped draft the code of conduct, described unregulated short lets as “one of the greatest challenges our sector is facing” and says the proposals are “a start to the process of creating a level playing field”.

CEO Dean Long said: “As the sector’s peak voice into government we are pleased that they have now agreed that a creating a level playing field means registration and elevating fire and safety standards for those operating in unregulated accommodation industry.

“We will be reviewing the proposed regulations and we look forward to working with the government as they finalise the specific regulations to ensure the needs of the accommodation sector and our guests are considered.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW CEO Michael Johnson said the association had been pushing for a short-stay registration system for some time.

“A registration system is a welcome first step towards creating a level playing field between the accommodation sector and the ‘quasi-hotels’ springing up due to unregulated short-term letting,” he said.

“We welcome the Government’s move to ask for community feedback on a new regulatory framework on STRA – especially the fact it would include a mandatory code of conduct for the first time.”

And he added: “No matter where tourists stay, they should be able to rest assured that their accommodation adheres to minimum health and safety requirements.”

The Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation Association described the proposals as an important evolution, saying the NSW model draws on international best-practice and will “recalibrate the approach to establish a quality precedent for other regulators around Australia”.

Chair Rob Jeffress said: “The proposed registration system will address the concerns of stakeholders both for and against STRA by establishing a strong legitimate foundation for the industry, improving professional standards of operation, safety and compliance, as well creating an effective mechanism to target unwanted impacts relating to guest behaviour and irresponsible owners which all sides are keen to address.”

Holiday rental platform Stayz agreed the proposals represent “an important step forward for clarity for communities, local governments and the industry”.

The consultation period runs until September 11.

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