Airbnb, Stayz hosts could be fined for ‘party houses’

OWNERS of out-of-control "party houses" on platforms like Airbnb and Stayz could be whacked with fines under proposed changes in NSW.

The state government on Friday released an options paper canvassing reforms to regulations around short-term rental accommodation, which has grown into an estimated $31 billion industry nationally.

Among the proposals include changes to strata management scheme laws which would make owners liable for actions of short-term guests, allowing for increased levies on lot owners who rent out their properties, and introducing civil penaties for creating a nuisance. 

The paper also proposes limiting the number of days a property can be let without a development application, expanding the powers of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to deal with problems arising from short-term letting, and enabling owners' corporations to prohibit or restrict the practice entirely.

Brent Thomas, Airbnb's head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, said some of the paper could "best be described as overkill".

"There is a whole generation of Australians that will only ever be able to afford to live in strata living," he said. "We say someone's home is their castle, whether it's an apartment or house, and they ought to be able to share their home.

"These heavy-handed options would unfairly punish everyday people who rely on Airbnb, rob people of their right to share their homes in a respectful way, cost local jobs, and make it more expensive for people and families to travel.

"Ultimately, Airbnb, our host community and the countless people in NSW who support our platform want to see the NSW Government put in place rules that get the balance right," he said. "Rules that protect the rights of people who want to share their home if they wish, while preserving the safety and amenity of our community."

There are more than 40,000 Airbnb listings in NSW, including 17,000 in greater Sydney alone. The average Airbnb host in NSW earns $4400 in a year sharing their home.

Jordan Condo, director of corporate and government affairs at Stayz, said the paper did not properly distinguish between regional holiday homes and short-term rentals in the city, warning the proposals could undermine regional jobs and tourism.

Stayz said of its 17,500 listings in NSW, 85 per cent were in regional areas. "The NSW Government must not forget that short-term rental accommodation injected $2.1 billion into the economy last year, much of it in regional NSW," he said.

"Holiday homes are the lifeblood of many regional towns and cities, but the government has ignored regional constituents in their response ... The options paper does not distinguish between someone renting out a beach or bush holiday home from someone renting out a room in an already leased property in a city strata apartment.

"Why should someone who owns a beach shack and has for decades leased it out to others when not using it themselves suddenly be handed a bunch of red tape and financial burden for providing accommodation in the parts of NSW where it is needed the most? It does not make any sense and it's not evidence-based policy making."

News Corp Australia


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