The Airbnb-style holiday letting in NSW is under growing concerns from industry groups and local councils calling for compulsory registration to ensure the safety of guests, residents and the wider community.
The NSW government recently introduced a 180-night cap, and a range of other measures but didn’t introduce a mandatory registration system as in similar popular tourist destination like London, Paris, San Francisco and Toronto.
One of the main issues raised is that without compulsory reporting there is no way of checking if short-term lets comply with appropriate fire safety standards, especially in medium rise apartment buildings under 25 metres tall where there is no requirement for sprinkler systems.
“Councils are responsible for monitoring the fire compliance of premises generally, and with short-term lets there’s always the image of overcrowding,” says Linda Scott the president of Local Government NSW, the peak body for local government. “That’s a very big problem.
“A registration system would help us keep a closer eye on those properties that are registered so we could better assess the risks.”
Another point that’s been raised by various groups is that there is no way of regulating the 180-night cap, without a compulsory reporting system in place for short-term and holiday rentals.
New York and Boston are introducing mandatory registrations, which are being challenged in the courts by Airbnb, who lost a similar court case in San Francisco against regulation.
Airbnb says it’s opposed to compulsory registration in NSW, whereas the Owners Corporation, the peak body for apartment owners, is supporting registration.
“It’s extraordinary that such a large number of the industry, including main players, want registration, but it’s surprising that in NSW it isn’t happening,” says board member Jane Hearn.
“In areas of Victoria like the Mornington Peninsula, there’s registration and I believe Tasmania is moving that way, too. How can you monitor and enforce regulatory standards when we don’t know which properties are being used for short-term lets?”
Another of the suggested proposed benefits of compulsory registration is that it would provide a way to determine between mums and dads doing holiday lettings and investors setting up commercial businesses. Also, if an area became heavily holiday let, say more than 10% of properties in a particular area, some kind of cap on the number of properties in that area or other restrictions could be introduced.