Roundup: Fair Trading lays down the law on holiday lets

Fair Trading has spoken – whispered, really – but the message is clear: the key to controlling holiday lets within strata buildings lies with local councils.

Whether or not that will change with the imminent release of a discussion paper leading to new laws on short-term letting across NSW, remains to be seen.

But concerned residents – tenants and owners –  and conspiracy theorists alike will note the timing of a recent and unannounced change to Fair Trading’s Strata Living handbook.

Spotted by an eagle-eyed Flat Chat reader, the following paragraph slipped in quietly to the section on holiday letting.

“Strata laws prevent an owners corporation restricting an owner from letting their lot, including short-term letting. The only way short-term letting can be restricted is by council planning regulations.”

So does this mean you can’t currently have a by-law banning Airbnb?  Yes and no.

The general opinion is that you can’t have a by-law that bluntly bans short-stay letting; but you can have a by-law that says owners must abide by local council zoning. If your building is zoned residential only, it amounts to the same thing.

In fact, if you don’t want holiday lets in your building, you should have that by-law because your local council isn’t going to do anything about holiday lets any time soon.  However, if you have a by-law, you can take the miscreants to the Tribunal and get them fined.

So I wouldn’t wait for your local council to do the heavy lifting. The simple fact is that with the exponential growth of short-term letting in relatively few areas (the ones where tourists want to stay, d’uh!) the affected councils don’t have the resources to police it or any additional revenue from it.

However, it seems every other day there is a new study showing that in the areas where holiday letting is most prevalent, it is pushing up rents and crushing rental availability – hence the push for new laws and the resulting scramble by the global agencies to make sure their ability to make a motza out of turning your homes into de facto hotels is not curbed in any significant way.

Anyway, all of that is just my view. Meanwhile, while we wait for the discussion paper to land, you can download the Fair Trading handbook here. And the debate continues about what kind of short-term letting by-law you can have. That’s HERE.

Also there is the usual cavalcade of disputes, from the minor to the monumental, on the Flat Chat forum.

  • Neighbours have joint responsibility for repairing the fence between them.  One wants a like for like replacement, the other wants to “upgrade” to Colorbond.  The committee is split.  Who decides?  That’s HERE.
  • What do you do when your strata manager sacks your building? That’s HERE.
  • Can a committee ban security bars on ground floor windows.  That’s HERE.
  • How apartments can get in on ‘free’ electricity from solar power. That’s HERE.
  • And a very grumpy JimmyT lets fly at “bush lawyerism”. That’s HERE.
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