Airbnb crackdown: NSW government introduces 180-day cap on listings

The NSW government has announced a cap of 180 days per calendar year on empty properties rented out using Airbnb in Sydney.

The ruling also allows strata corporations the power to ban Airbnb in their building if 75 per cent of owners are agreed.

The decision comes after a drawn out debate over the policing of short-term letting, which is currently unregulated in NSW, despite Sydney being listed as one of Airbnb’s top ten cities.

“We’ve been grappling with how to regulate this industry for a little over two years,” said Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean.

“There is genuinely a diversity of opinion across both the partyroom and the community … but I’m confident this package has got the balance right.”

That ‘diversity of opinion’ is what has delayed the ruling, initial plans from the minister were turned down by the government backbench after an MP revolt.

Initially the 180-day cap was presented alone, but there were concerns over the lack of power for individual strata committees.

The rest of the state will not face caps for short-term letting, although councils outside of greater Sydney will be granted the power to impose their own caps which cannot be lower than 180 days per year.

It’s thought that Byron Bay could be one of the first to move, as locals have been affected by an increase in short-term holiday leases, driving up rental prices across the region.

Both hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the code within two years can be punished under the new laws, they can be banned from Airbnb and similar platforms for five years and placed on an exclusion register.

“We’ve got the balance right between protecting people’s property rights, between recognising owner’s corporations have a role to play in the governance of strata schemes, and ensuring people who want to use these platforms like Airbnb are able to do so,” Mr Kean said.

The reforms are supported by Airbnb’s Global Head of Policy, Chris Lehane, who said they could serve as a “world model” in their “fair and balanced” nature. Mr Lehane went on to say the platform welcomed regulation from government agencies, and was comfortable sharing its data.

Airbnb has come under fire in the past for the secrecy around its data, causing a rise in independent monitoring platforms like Inside Airbnb.

However, in a submission to the NSW government, the platform released NSW data, showing there were more than 45,000 Airbnb listings in the state, with the average host earning approximately $5300 per year.

The host community in NSW has welcomed nearly 420,000 Airbnb guests over the last 12 months, representing a year-on-year growth of 167 per cent.

This isn’t the first time a city has tried to fight back against the rising short-term letting economy, both Berlin and Barcelona have struggled to enforce their own regulations in the past.

London has also battled the platform in the past, introducing a 90-day limit on Airbnb rentals. Cities across the US have also begun to regulate days listed.

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Hannah Blackiston

Hannah Blackiston was an in-house journalist with Elite Agent. She worked with the company from January 2018 to January 2019.