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Furious hoteliers denounce rules on Airbnb-style letting

June 8, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

New South Wales has introduced weak rules governing short-term letting on Airbnb-style “sharing economy” platforms, which will cost jobs in regional areas of the state and compromise consumer safety, the accommodation industry has warned.

New regulations were hammered out this week after almost three years of deliberation (see Airbnb renting crackdown is a breakthrough for NSW), but hoteliers have made it clear they do not consider the rules go nearly far enough.

Speaking on behalf of the industry, the Accommodation Association of Australia said the new regulations would allow quasi-hotels to flourish in Sydney, placing even greater pressure on housing affordability.

“This is a very disappointing outcome for the accommodation industry, particularly the way it seemingly thumbs its nose at operators of accommodation businesses in regional NSW,” Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive, Richard Munro said.

He said Airbnb and other online platforms employed virtually no one in Australia, “yet the minister claims these platforms contribute AUD 31 billion to the Australian economy, which indicates he has completely swallowed Airbnb’s PR blitz.”

Munro also slammed claims by NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean about the “toughest laws in the country” resulting from wide consultation.

“On behalf of our hundreds of members in NSW, we wrote to him on 11 May last year requesting a meeting to discuss regulation of short-term letting and this request was never granted,” Munro said.

If it had been, he said, “the Minister would have found out Tasmania has a more stringent regime for regulating short-term letting, which makes a mockery of claims the new framework is the toughest in the country.

“There appears to be no requirement for Airbnb properties to meet standards relating to building fire safety, insurance and disability access that our members have invested millions on.

“The 180-day cap for short-term letting in greater Sydney is nowhere near enough to minimise the incidence of residential apartment blocks quietly becoming quasi-hotels – and the reality is any consumer who stays in such properties faces a much higher safety risk because of the lower standards which are in place. Our industry is supportive of a 30-day cap.”

The deal would cost jobs in regional areas because there was virtually no cap on the amount of time short-term letting could take place outside greater Sydney,” Munro said.

“The Accommodation Association has been on the public record for some time saying the negative impact of Airbnb on our industry has been far more pronounced in regional and rural areas because there are fewer guests seeking accommodation in these locations than Sydney, so even a minor drop in the number of guests staying at traditional hotels or motels results in job losses.”

Other observers have also questioned the 180-day cap, which allows “hosts” to rent out Sydney apartment properties for half the year.

Alex Greenwich, Independent MP for Sydney, agreed 180 days could easily be used as a commercial model and did not truly reflect the sharing economy.

“180 days could be all of summer and most weekends; it could be every weekend with a day or two on either side,” Greenwich said. “Letting a home for 180 days a year in areas of high tourist demand could be more profitable than letting out to long-term tenants.”

Greenwich said the cap in London, San Francisco, New Orleans and Reykjavik was 90 days – half the proposed NSW model. New York had gone further and simply banned all short-term letting in apartment buildings.

Greenwich dded that the changes did not go far enough to protect buildings from turning into quasi-hotels because owners’ corporations would have no say when short term letting was less than 180 days a year.

Written by Peter Needham

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