Party animals and horrible hosts beware! Breaches of the NSW holiday rental Code of Conduct are already being pursued and hosts and guests face being blacklisted – even though the NSW Short-Term Rental (STRA) register and exclusion list aren’t officially up and running.
However online platforms like Airbnb and Stayz, as well as local holiday rental agents will not be told to remove their listings, as they would be if the register was fully operational.
NSW Fair Trading says it has already received a number of complaints about breaches of the Short -Term Rental Accommodation code of conduct and has warned hosts and guests about their behaviour.
And even though we are still waiting for the STRA register and blacklist to be finalised by NSW Planning, hosts and guests who commit two breaches before the register goes live will be told that their names would be on the register if it existed, so they will be forbidden from renting or letting short-term rentals.
However, according to Fair Trading’s Statement of Regulatory Intent, online platforms like Airbnb and Stayz, as well as rental agents, won’t have to comply and can still list banned properties and accept bookings from excluded individuals.
The register of holiday letting premises, and the related blacklist, were promised before Christmas last year, when the first stage of the STHL Code of Conduct – a highly publicised crackdown on party houses and flats – was announced.
At that time, it was announced that June this year would see the creation of both a register of holiday letting premises and the related blacklist, as well as establishing the fire safety aspects of the proposed code.
So have there been any complaints that would otherwise have seen host, properties or guests blacklisted?
“Fair Trading is currently receiving complaints in relation to matters covered by the Code,” a spokesperson said. “Some breaches have been detected and Fair Trading is responding in line with the Statement of Regulatory Intent.”
The statement of regulatory intent basically says that miscreants will initially be “educated” about their breaches of the code. However, if they have already been breached twice and would have been placed on the “exclusion register” (had it existed), they will be told they have been blacklisted and banned from running or booking holiday rentals for five years.
“NSW Fair Trading will … enforce the exclusion register-related obligations on hosts and guests provided under clauses 2.4.12, 2.4.13 and 2.5.7,” the regulatory statement says. “These clauses require that hosts and guests do not enter into short-term rental accommodation arrangements if they or their premises have been listed on the exclusion register.
“Fair Trading is enforcing these clauses because hosts and guests would be notified if they were listed on the register, even if it is not publicly available. Since the host and guest will be aware of their own listing on the exclusion register, they need to meet the requirement of not entering into any short-term rental accommodation arrangements.”
That means that until June 1, we are in a transition period to let hosts and guests get used to the new regulations.
However, since the blacklist is not available to the public, even if online rental agencies, and even physical ones, know that a property, host or guest has been blacklisted, they don’t have to de-list them, until such times as the blacklist is officially available.
So when will that be?
“We are finalising the policy on short- term rental accommodation (STRA) and plan on releasing it shortly,” says a spokesperson for the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE). “This will include the delivery of the STRA register.”
And what about the proposed fire safety provisions which, some experts say, if they match those outlined in last year’s discussion paper, could rule out 60 per cent, if not more of existing holiday rentals?
“Fire safety is a top priority for the NSW Government,” says the DPIE spokesperson. “The finalised policy will include appropriate fire safety standards to ensure safety for short term rental accommodation guests.”
NB: for the record, in the headline for this article we have used the term “airbnb” (with a lower-case A) in its common usage as a generic term meaning a holiday rental booked online.