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​Stayz, Airbnb call for NSW-wide regulation for accommodation sharing economy

Executives of Airbnb and Stayz have called for consistent guidelines in NSW to address any complaints around noise and amenities.

Airbnb and Stayz have called for regulation of short-term holiday rentals to be consistent across NSW.

Executives from the two companies, as well as the Holiday Rental Industry Association (HRIA), have appeared at a parliamentary inquiry into the adequacy of regulation.

A mandatory code of conduct would solve most of the issues raised surrounding noise and amenities, HRIA's Trevor Atherton told the inquiry on Monday.

Applying a code of conduct, which already exists, wouldn't be a burden on homeowners or councils while a development application would be "tantamount to prohibition" because it was costly and slow, he said.

When councils received noise complaints, there needed to be communication with the holiday rental company so they could take action, he said.

Stayz regional director Anton Stanish agreed.

The website, which lists 43,000 properties across Australia, does not allow "party houses" and holds the property owner responsible for enforcing the rules, he said.

"We delist such properties," he said.

Stayz is "seeking clear and consistent guidelines" across the state instead of harsh regulation that would force owners to sell their properties, he told the inquiry.

Airbnb executive Mike Orgill said the company also wanted consistency, but steered clear of a mandatory code of conduct.

If anyone had complaints they would soon be able to hand them straight to Airbnb through a new system the company was rolling out, he said.

"The code is designed for professional operators" but many Airbnb hosts rented out their own homes or rooms within, Orgill told the inquiry.

A two-way review system of hosts and guests meant bad apples could be weeded out and guests had incentive to behave properly, lest they get the thumbs down, he said.

The inquiry is being conducted by the Legislative Assembly's committee on environment and planning, with a report and recommendations expected later this year.

The inquiry comes after the New South Wales government released a position paper earlier this year that discussed how the government hopes to address what it called the collaborative economy.

The Collaborative Economy in NSW - position paper said the government supports the development of the collaborative economy, provided all involved are being treated fairly and appropriate levels of consumer protection and public safety are in place.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said in October that he wants Australians to make money from sharing their properties and services and proposed a plan to "make it happen".

His party released a National Sharing Economy Principals Fact Sheet [PDF] that outlined six principles for the sharing economy that Shorten hopes to turn into rules and regulations to help give rise to the next Uber or Airbnb.

These principles include the regulated sharing of primary property; appropriate wages and working conditions for staff; correct tax payments; proper protection and insurances; access for all, including those with a disability; and zero tolerance for those that defy the law.

At the end of last year, Sam McDonagh, Airbnb Australia and New Zealand country manager, said he wants to work with governments of all levels in Australia to come up with fair and progressive homesharing legislation.

At the time, he said one of the biggest issues the startup faces globally is the different interpretation on a federal, state, and local government level of what homesharing actually means.

"One of the unique things about cities and places throughout the world that make them amazing places to visit is that they're different," McDonagh said.

"We're in 34,000 cities and in many instances there are many local governments that govern and regulate within those cities."

With AAP

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