Short term rentals in areas away from traditional holiday letting in Yamba has raised the ire of residents.
Short term rentals in areas away from traditional holiday letting in Yamba has raised the ire of residents.

Two-strike plan at heart of short-term holiday rental policy

A NEW NSW Government plan that regulates short-term holiday letting includes a two-strike code of conduct policy that would place offenders on an exclusion list.

The NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, said the Government's short-term holiday letting plan supported the sharing economy and gave consumers more choice while cracking down on bad behaviour.

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.

The State Government plan should be good news for Clarence Valley Council, which has used the state's policy vacuum as a reason for delaying its own decision making.

At the start of the year Yamba residents called on the council to crack down on so-called party houses, but found the lack of clearly regulations prevented them making a clear policy.

"Council's position was to tell the State Government to get on with it and give everyone clarity,” Mr Schroder said in January.

"In some of the zones in Yamba, the classic tourism zones have been rented for 20, 30, 50 years, they've been rented out for short-term rentals.

"The problem is, to get the evidence on short-term rentals to say it is illegal is (very hard).

"There is a bit of that, supposedly in the west Yamba area, and the other question is if it's causing lots of complaints.”

Mr Schroder said if they are receiving lots of legitimate complaints they do try to act but must ensure they can pursue the matter through the courts.

"Our position is that we want the State Government to get on with making a decision, we are still processing through the ones that have been reported to us... and we will take action if we find something really, really causing grief.”

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.”

The Clarence Valley Council will make an updated statement on the NSW Government's plan on Wednesday.

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