News In Brief

New Code of Conduct and regulations for short-term rentals

The NSW Government’s decision to introduce strengthened regulations and registration systems for NSW short-term rental accommodation has been congratulated by The Accommodation Association of Australia, and for Accom operators the decision of how to regulate is long overdue.

The peak industry body, Accommodation Association (AA) represents the accommodation and tourism industry on the Code of Conduct Advisory committee. This week the association welcomed the introduction of a Code of Conduct, and the confirmation that a full Short-Term Rental regulatory framework including a Premises Register and final SEPP will be in force by 1 June 2021.

Over the last eight months the NSW accommodation sector has faced consecutive revenue decline, a drop of 70-80 percent therefore the decision by the NSW Government to level out the playing field with the introduction of tougher regulation of short-term rental accommodation is seen as a positive move. Unregulated short-term rental accommodation has been a contentious issue for the industry and it is considered by many that these regulations have been a long time coming.

Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long said: “Until now, short-term rental accommodation has operated without the measures, controls and regulations that the traditional accommodation sector is required to meet. The NSW Government is now moving to level out the playing field by addressing this significant regulatory imbalance. It is in the sector’s interests and in the interests of hosts and consumers and those living close to these properties that the appropriate frameworks for safe and appropriate operation are in place. ”

“As the sole accommodation and tourism association on the Code of Conduct Advisory committee, we are pleased to have played a role in shaping this outcome, which assists to protect employment and investment in our sector. While we would have preferred that all parts of the framework were delivered at the same time and prior to the Christmas holidays, there will be the beginnings of a robust compliance platform in place.
 
“We look forward to continuing to work with the NSW Government on the detail of the registration system and congratulate them on their national leadership on short term rental regulation.”

The new regulations follow changes to the Fair Trading Act 1987 and Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 in April, which permits NSW strata properties, via by-laws, to prohibit short-term letting
 
By mid-2021, a strong Code of Conduct will be in place which outlines the rights and obligations of short-term rental accommodation industry participants plus strengthened Planning regulations supported by a registration system for oversight and the above changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.

The state’s leading Tourism accommodation body Tourism Accommodation Australia said the new mandatory Code of Conduct for the short-term rental industry will help level the playing field for established accommodation hotels.

Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW CEO Michael Johnson said the code, announced by the NSW Government today, includes obligations for hosts, guests, on-line booking platforms and letting agents, as well as a complaints process for anyone to complain about breaches.

He said the new laws will come into effect in December and TAA NSW has led the way in advocating for these reforms.

“TAA thanks the NSW government for listening to our concerns and implementing these much-needed changes,” said Mr Johnson.

“With the new code of conduct and registration and planning laws in place we can hope to see a regulated short-term rental accommodation environment that complements the accommodation sector rather disrupting it.”

Mr Johnson said the code also refers to an “exclusion register” and a “mandatory premises register” which will come into play from June 2021 and will ultimately complete the STRA reform.

He said today’s release of the code follows on and complements the amendments to the Fair Trading Act 1987, Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 that recently commenced.

Mr Johnson said the Code of Conduct comes at a crucial time for the industry.

The national body for the Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation industry ASTRA have been involved in the development of the new regulations and also welcomed the release of the short-term rental accommodation (STRA) industry Code of Conduct (CoC) in NSW. 

Rob Jeffress, Chairman of ASTRA welcomed the Code as a landmark moment that will introduce professional standards across the industry. ASTRA represents the 70,000-80,000 STRA mum and dad, families, and small business operators with a combined investment in excess of $35 billion.

According to ASTRA, the STRA industry now provides 25 percent of overall tourism accommodation in NSW and contributes over $15 billion to the NSW economy, whilst supporting thousands of local contractors and businesses each year.

Mr Jeffress said “It’s also a ‘coming of age’ which demonstrates the importance of the STR Industry in providing guest preference for home style accommodation and the growth of the industry as it becomes recognised as a valuable core sector of the tourism accommodation industry.

“Although this is the beginning of Implementing new standards, we now have a sound working plan for moving forward.  We are grateful for the work of Ministers Kevin Anderson and Rob Stokes in developing these new measures and now look forward to working with operators in NSW to put the CoC into effect.”

The principal objectives of this code are to:

  1. Set out the rights of STRA participants
  2. Provide solutions for dispute and complaints about the conduct of STRA industry participants
  3. The compliance and enforcement approach that applies to contraventions of the code by STRA industry participants
  4. Facilitate the oversight of the STRA industry

CoC gives clarity to hosts in regards to community expectations; communication with neighbours in regards to notification that they are operating STRA; sets requirements for guest behaviour whilst staying in residential communities; gives means for dispute resolution and will allow LGAs a clearer means of enforcing compliance. One of the key benefits is that we will be able to identify and address the issues created by a relatively small number of irresponsible owners and guests that have undermined our industry and the quality standards we’ve worked so hard to build.

According to Jeffress “ASTRA recognises the use of ‘residential properties’ as having a legitimate position in the accommodation sector. Given that STRA comprises around 25 percent of all tourism accommodation in NSW and up to 50  percent in regional areas, where it is a key driver for local tourist economies and jobs, the CoC will give clarity, and a state-wide regulatory framework while allowing flexibility for local government controls.

‘The CoC will set professional standards; make sure properties are safe and compliant; target and address issues such as irresponsible owners, dodgy operators, party houses and bad guests.”

ASTRA eagerly awaits the property register and planning changes from DPIE.

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