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Executive Summary Whatever you do, don’t annoy the voters! New laws for Airbnb rentals to start in 2019 in NSW

August 22, 2018 Headline News, Travel Law No Comments Email Email

The Castle is a great movie because it captures the emotional attachment Australians have to their home and to living a friendly and peaceful neighbourhood.

Town planning laws support this by strictly separating residential from business and commercial areas, with exceptions for home offices and occupations.

Airbnb style short-term rentals have disturbed the neighbours, especially in strata buildings, because the guests come and go frequently, and some are noisy, hold parties and do damage. They have disturbed the town planners because Airbnb rentals introduce a commercial activity into residential areas.

For the past three years, the NSW Government has been searching for a compromise between encouraging tourism and allowing people to make extra money, with the concerns voters have of increased levels of noise and disturbance in residential neighbourhoods.

Now it has introduced new laws to regulate short-term rentals. In summary:

  • Homestays are legal all year round if the owner-occupier is renting a spare room, a flat or a studio as a short-term rental. No Council approval is needed.
  • Whole house or apartment short-term rentals are legal up to 180 days per year, where the owner-investor is not present. This limit applies only to Greater Sydney. Elsewhere in NSW, there is no limit on the number of days. No Council approval is needed.
  • If the apartment is in a strata building, the owners corporation can ban owner-investors from using the apartment for short-term rentals, but not owner-occupiers from using the apartment for short-term rentals when they are on holidays (for up to 180 days per year). A special by-law is needed, passed by a 75% majority, to ban short-term rentals.
  • All hosts will need to register their property. Hosts, guests, holiday letting agents, will all need to comply with a code of conduct to keep the neighbourhood peaceful, and observe rules for parking and garbage disposal.
  • Hosts in Greater Sydney who wish to rent out whole apartments or houses for short-term rentals year round will need to adopt either: a split rental policy – for half of the year short-term, for the other half, leases of 3 months and one day; or if they are in a mixed use, business or holiday zone, obtain Council approval for a serviced apartment or holiday house. And not operate in buildings with a ‘No Airbnb’ by-law.

Of course, there are many fine details. To find out more click Be ready for the new Airbnb / short-term letting laws which will start in 2019 in NSW

Anthony Cordato is a Tourism Lawyer who has an expertise in short-term rentals. He may be contacted at

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