‘Business as usual’ for Airbnb by-laws, says strata lawyer

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With the announcement two weeks ago that legislation is going to be changed, allowing owners corporations to pass by-laws forbidding owners from listing their entire apartments on holiday letting websites, there’s a fair amount of confusion around.

Haven’t we been told that our by-laws were invalid, by none other than Fair Trading? And do we have to wait until the new laws come in and then pass by-laws all over again?

No, we don’t, according to one strata lawyer who has been very vocal in this area, who says it’s a case of “keep on keeping on”.

Apart from anything else, despite what Fair Trading has been telling us, it turns out that many by-laws have been OK all the time and the new laws will just be confirming that.

Amanda Farmer of yourstrataproperty.com.au says the lack of detail in the government’s announcement about restrictions of AirBnB-style holiday lets has left owners and strata managers, unsure how, or even if, they can regulate short term letting in their buildings.

The reforms announced on 5 June 2018 will give owners corporations the right to pass by-laws banning non-resident investors from short-term letting their apartments and limiting owner-occupiers to using their apartments for short term lets up to 180 days out of a year, she says.

Those restrictions won’t apply to owner-occupiers letting a room only while they are living in their  apartments. However, there’s still a lot of confusion.

“The mechanism by which strata buildings will be able to regulate this use is not yet clear, but it’s anticipated that buildings will be expressly granted the power to pass by-laws which can then be enforced against defaulting owners,” says Amanda.

“The law has not changed. We expect it will be some months before we will see the legislation which brings these proposed reforms in to effect. Until then, it should be business as usual for those strata buildings that already have by-laws in place regulating short term letting.

“We are anticipating that under the proposed reforms, the power of owners corporations to use by-laws to restrict such use by investor owners will be confirmed. If that is the case, buildings that already have by-laws in place restricting short term lets may be able to continue to rely on those by-laws.”

However, she cautions that much will depend on the wording of the new legislation, and the way specific by-laws have been drafted.

“Amendments may need to be made to existing by-laws to ensure they are compliant with any new law,” she says.

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