After several false starts the NSW government has released its proposed changes to planning laws that will take the current restrictions off online holiday letting platforms like Airbnb.
And while they will reluctantly allow owners corporations to pass by-laws banning whole home lets while the owner isn’t present, they will remove all restrictions on genuine “sharing” – renting of rooms – and allow commercial lets, where permitted, of up to six months … one of the most Airbnb-friendly limits in the world.
This is what their press release said:
The Government’s short-term holiday letting plan will support the sharing economy and give consumers more choice while cracking down on bad behaviour, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said.
Mr Kean said the reforms recognise the estimated $31 billion annual contribution of online booking platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway (formerly Stayz) to the Australian economy, while stamping out party houses through a mandatory Code of Conduct.
The plan also includes changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act, which will allow owners corporations to adopt a by-law, with a 75 per cent majority, preventing short-term letting in their block if the host does not live in the unit they are letting out.
“We have consulted widely with industry and the community to make sure our nation-leading regulatory framework is the very best approach to short-term holiday letting,” Mr Kean said.
Mr Kean said the mandatory Code of Conduct for online accommodation platforms, letting agents, hosts and guests would address impacts like noise levels, disruptive guests and effects on shared neighbourhood amenities.
The Code will also include a new dispute resolution process to resolve complaints, and NSW Fair Trading will have powers to police online platforms and letting agents.
““Under our ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy, hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the Code within two years will be banned for five, and be listed on an exclusion register,” Mr Kean said.
“These are the toughest laws in the country and will make sure residents are protected while ensuring that hosts who do the right thing are not penalised.”
Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts said new state-wide planning rules would also come into force, including:
- Allowing short-term holiday letting as exempt development 365 days per year when the host is present;
- When the host is not present, a limit for hosts to rent out properties via short-term holiday letting of 180 days in Greater Sydney, with 365 days allowed in all other areas of New South Wales;
- Councils outside Greater Sydney having the power to decrease the 365 day threshold to no lower than 180 days per year; and,
- Certain planning rules will apply to properties on bushfire prone land.
“The 180 days a year limit approximately equates to weekends, school holidays and public holidays so we felt this was a fair and balanced approach,” Mr Roberts said.
“Councils outside Greater Sydney can decide if permitting short-term holiday letting for the entire year is acceptable for their local communities. This recognises the importance of tourism in some regional communities.”