Unit blocks (condos) forced to take Airbnb lets under proposed laws
27 August 2016
Apartment buildings in New South Wales (NSW) could be forced to accept
short-term lets – including every weekend – under proposals being
formulated by a parliamentary inquiry.
The Sydney model
And protections for owners who don’t want holiday lets, which have
become hugely popular through online agencies such as Airbnb and Stayz
, were “blown out of the water” by City of Sydney’s submissions,
according to a committee insider.
City of Sydney’s proposals would allow complete homes, including
apartments, to be let for a specified number of days a year before they
had to apply for a “change of use” planning approval.
One figure being seriously considered is 100 days a year. Critics have
pointed out that this is the equivalent of every weekend – the times
when short-stay guest disruption is at its worst.
The Sydney model has apparently been seized upon by pro-short stay
committee members who are using it as a “least worst” benchmark, even
for buildings where most owners don’t want holiday lets in their unit
The final proposal is due within weeks and, according to unnamed
sources close to the committee, it is moving closer to a combination of
three models, two laws from interstate and significant parts of the
City of Sydney submission.
The first element
The first element is the Victorian law due to come in later this year,
which allows short-stay letting in strata schemes but has provisions
for suing hosts and their guests for damages, including disruptive
behaviour. It also has a three strikes rule that could see
individual apartments, where short-stay guests frequently behave badly,
banned from having short-stay lets in the future.
However, Victorian strata residents’ group WeLiveHere claims the laws
will be impossible to police and will require constant vigilance and
repeated legal action by apartment owners if they are to have any
The second element
The second element under consideration for NSW legislation is the
Queensland Party House law, brought in to prevent houses and units,
primarily in the Gold Coast, from being set up as commercial weekend
party venues, where revellers would literally party for all day and
night, often with rock bands, DJs and strippers.
The third element
But it’s the third element, the Sydney Model, that would undercut
strata residents’ ability to run their buildings how they want to.
Currently, apartment blocks in NSW can ban short-term lets by passing
bylaws that confirm the block’s adherence to their development
approvals and zoning, using the definition of residential lets as being
nothing less than 30 days.
City of Sydney suggests that short-stay holiday letting be defined as
“exempt development”, meaning that neither “residential only” zoning
nor hotel planning requirements would apply.
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