Helping your business stay up to date on local regulations is one of our top priorities. Refer to this page often to keep up with the latest laws and regulations that apply to holiday rental owners and property managers operating in Australia.
Helping your business stay up to date on local regulations is one of our top priorities. Refer to this page often to keep up with the latest laws and regulations that apply to holiday rental owners and property managers operating in Australia.
As the Byron Shire faces an ongoing housing shortage, the Short-Term Rental Planning Proposal was open for comments and submissions from the local community until the 31st of October, on the Byron Shire council’s website.
The proposal includes a 90-day restricted cap on STRA providers and aims to return properties in key residential areas to the long-term letting pool. Byron Shire Council mayor Michael Lygon claims the proposal could return 1,500 homes to the permanent rental pool.
However, Tourism Research Australia research shows that the Byron community can expect to lose over $267m every year and up to 1,448 jobs.
Accommodation platforms like Stayz and Vrbo are a critical driver for tourism, economic growth, and employment across New South Wales. Those against the plan also note there are only 1,136 homes on the official NSW short-term register in the Byron Bay area. Vrbo maintains a position that while it is understandable Byron Shire Council is seeking to address questions about the economic impact of short-term rental accommodation on local infrastructure and services, these kinds of reactionary proposals threaten the tourism sector in recovery and local economy.
Rather, Vrbo continues to recommend Byron Shore Council adhere to the NSW State framework for Short-Term Letting as a better approach to collecting the data that will inform sensible policy proposals for the sector. Further, Vrbo is engaging with the government, media and other stakeholders to influence the removal of development red-tape and investment in building greater levels of affordable housing.
In October, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) conference brought together Councils from across Queensland to debate issues of importance to their communities, including the establishment of visitor “bed tax” levies and strategies to address social housing shortages across the state.
The motion to impose a 2.5% tourism levy in Far North Queensland, which is predicted to raise at least $16 million a year according to Cairns Regional Council, passed with resounding support at the LGAQ conference last month. The proceeds will be spent on destination marketing and tourism infrastructure, and councils can choose to opt in or out of the program.
Delegates at the conference voted 170 to 30 in favour of lobbying the State Government for its introduction. Tourism Tropical North Queensland chairman Ken Chapman said visitor levies must apply to all accommodation, including short-term rentals. While Airbnb has backed the introduction of opt-in tourism levies as a "fair and sustainable way to raise revenue”, Vrbo maintains that the scheme will only send tourism dollars to other Australian holiday destinations. It is a punitive measure that will increase costs and threaten the local economy.
The Queensland Government has committed an extra $1b to the state’s housing fund, in order to build an extra 5,600 affordable homes over the next five years. Around 200 people across all levels of government, the private sector and stakeholder groups gathered at a summit in Brisbane on the 20th of October, to discuss strategies to overcome housing pressures across Queensland. Vrbo and its partners continue to engage with local media in light of scrutiny for the Queensland State Government, to highlight the importance of short-term rentals to Queensland’s tourism sector.
A list of initiatives to address the significant housing shortage in Busselton has been released by the local Council, in light of rising homelessness and a lack of affordable housing in the area. A range of initiatives have been suggested by the Council, including the mailing of letters to short-term accommodation providers encouraging them to put their properties on the rental market, restrictions on the use of holiday homes and higher costs for holidaymakers. Councillors are also working with caravan parks to allow people to stay longer, and lobbying to release and develop more State Government owned land parcels.
Vrbo will continue to communicate messaging around the economic contribution of STRA to the region, as well as myth-busting the contributing factors to housing affordability and availability issues across the country.
Shoalhaven Council is investigating whether it can charge holiday homeowners additional rates and use the money to build an affordable housing fund. The Council has commissioned a report to determine whether it could apply for a special rate variation for people who own multiple properties, do not live in the region, and rent their property short term.
Mayor Amanda Findley said the money would go directly towards addressing the region's housing crisis. In addition to this special rate variation, the Council will also look at other measures, such as re-zoning land to allow for more housing.
Although a policy response is required to address the local housing crisis, Vrbo and its Partners remain vocal that higher rates are an unreasonable punitive measure, that will encourage homeowners to take their properties off the market entirely, impacting tourism in the area and exacerbating housing availability issues. We suggest that the Shoalhaven Council would benefit from turning their attention to removing overly onerous development red-tape and investing in building greater levels of affordable housing instead.
The controversial land tax changes proposed by the Queensland State government, aimed at landowners who own property interstate, have been shelved. Under the proposal, the value of an investor's properties Australia-wide would be taken into account to calculate land tax rates paid according to Queensland's thresholds.
The government confirmed the changes had been shelved on Friday 30th September, after the tax change was heavily criticised by property groups, the QLD State Opposition, and other State and Territory leaders in National Cabinet.
Hayden Groves, the president of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, said demonising investors ignores the important role they play in providing homes for millions of people. Further, some of the most pointed criticism came from NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who pledged to refuse to supply NSW citizens’ data to Queensland in order to calculate the taxes. Our team is pleased that sense has prevailed in this instance of misguided property tax reform.
The annual event brings together Councils from across Queensland for professional development and networking, and to debate issues of importance to their communities. Issues to be discussed this year will cover a range of topical areas, including the establishment of visitor “bed tax” levies and strategies to address social housing shortages across the state. The Vrbo team have been proactively engaging with media and other commentators in the lead up to this event to share policy recommendations and an alternative approach to addressing these complex housing issues.
The City of Busselton agreed to several policy amendments concerning holiday homes at a council meeting held in the final week of September. These include controlling the use of holiday homes, reducing the time within which a property manager must respond to issues, and increasing penalty costs for holidaymakers. Busselton holiday homeowners and managers will now have 12 hours to respond to complaints under a new directive carried at the council meeting. Increased infringement penalties and maximum penalties for breaches of local laws are also among the reforms. The strict new laws follow on from a series of regulations released in April this year, after the WA government received more than 2,000 submissions from a public consultation about state-wide STRA regulations.
The council also agreed to adopt a draft policy related to holiday homes registration. It includes information for managers, owners, occupants and guests regarding expectations and obligations for a range of issues including management of pets, sleeping arrangements (limited to inside), storage and removal of rubbish, signage and contact information, and maintenance and availability of services.
The changes seek to deal with disorderly conduct more efficiently, and clamp down on unregistered holiday homes, which has been a focus for the WA state government in recent years.
Vrbo will continue to communicate messaging around the economic contribution of STRA to the region, as well as the need for a more common-sense approach to tourism and visitor accommodation, as many industries continue their slow recovery post-COVID.
Byron Shire Council has proposed amendments to NSW State regulations around short term rental accommodation (STRA) which are now before the public until October 31. Should the NSW Planning department agree to the proposal, Byron Shire Council has agreed that there will be a 12-month transition period for operators to honour existing bookings.
Across the Shire, the limit for non-hosted STRA will be a maximum of 90 days per year. Parts of Byron Bay, Suffolk Park, Brunswick Heads and other parts of the Shire are still being considered for non-hosted holiday letting for 365 days a year.
Although a policy response is required to address local housing concerns, Vrbo and its Partners remain vocal that annual limits are an unreasonable restriction on trade and will encourage homeowners to take their properties off the market instead, exacerbating housing availability issues further.
NSW Fair Trading is now operating an Exclusion Register whereby certain guests and STRA providers will be excluded from participating in the short-term rental accommodation sector. Under a “two strikes” system of operation, STRA providers that fail to comply with the NSW Code of Conduct will be unable to list their properties on platforms like Stayz and similarly, guests who fail to comply will be unable to search for accommodation using short term rental platforms.
Kiama Municipal Council has proposed to charge owners of short-term rental properties higher commercial council rates, having previously classified them under a residential rate. The council is of the view that, as STRA owners are businesses looking to gain a profit, they should accordingly be charged commercial rates. The Council hopes the changes will encourage more homeowners to put their properties on the long-term rental market, and address the housing crisis in the area.
Vrbo and its Partners do not support the imposition of an additional financial burden on homeowners who are making a significant economic contribution to the LGA through jobs creation and local tourism. Instead, we are advocating for consistent regulatory frameworks that strike the right balance between individual property rights and tackling each state’s housing supply challenges.
Cairns Regional Council is seeking to revive its proposal to charge a 2.5 per cent levy or ‘bed tax’ on short-term accommodation. The ‘Sustainable Tourism Funding for Far North Queensland’ document earmarks the implementation of a visitor levy to per room per night bookings, with the aim of generating an additional $140 million in visitor revenue if the levy is charged to both hotels and STRA providers in the Cairns local government area.
State MP for Cairns, Michael Healy is planning on sharing the proposal at the upcoming Local Government Association of Queensland conference in October. The Council is seeking to apply the levy state-wide and according to media reports, received support from up to 77 councils across Queensland when it was first proposed in 2020.
Bob Manning, Cairns Mayor, and other Councillors argue that this proposal will successfully raise upwards of $16 million annually which can be put towards the development of local amenities, tourism, and destination marketing campaigns.
Vrbo and its Partners are already engaging with media to communicate messaging around the economic contribution of STRA to the region as well as the need for a more common-sense approach to tourism post pandemic.
Under new land tax rules, the Queensland State government will now include taxable land in Queensland as well as relevant interstate land when calculating owed tax. These changes will come into effect as of 30 June 2023.
Vrbo agrees with the Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s calls to repeal this illogical land tax policy, as Queensland is the only state or territory to seek revenue based on the value of properties outside of its jurisdiction which is unprecedented. In effect, this will simply deter property investors from investing in Queensland, placing upward pressure on rental prices and availability during one of the tightest rental markets in the State’s history.
We will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders and inform our partners of the outcome of coordinated efforts to repeal this new tax reform.
As of the 1st August 2022, NSW Fair Trading is operating an Exclusion Register whereby certain guests and STRA providers will be excluded from participating in the short-term rental accommodation sector. Under a “two strikes” system of operation, STRA providers that fail to comply with the NSW Code of Conduct will be unable to list their properties on platforms like Stayz and similarly, guests who fail to comply will be unable to search for accommodation using short term rental platforms.
Alongside our Vrbo partners, we welcome the NSW Exclusion Register as a fair and balanced tool to enforce the positive community expectations and standards of which we pride ourselves on.
After Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Mathew Hatcher wrote a letter recently to approximately 8000 non-resident ratepayers, urging them to rent their homes on the long-term market to ease housing supply issues. Shoalhaven Shire Council, Byron Shire Council, Ballina Shire Council among other regional areas in NSW have now followed suit.
Bega Shire Council is considering a similar measure, but its Mayor has acknowledged the limitations of this approach after a similar initiative following the 2019 bushfires failed to produce enough homes. Instead, Bega Shire’s focus is on building new homes in the area as quickly as possible to meet long-term rental demand, which is aligned with the wider STRA industry’s views.
In an attempt to increase long-term rental housing stock, the Brisbane City Council has introduced 50% higher council rates for property owners who offer their whole homes for short stays. Short-term rental accommodation generally makes up a small proportion of the overall property market and plays a fundamental role in boosting tourism in both cities and regional areas.
We continue to work closely with media and local policymakers to negate misconceptions that the STRA industry is to blame for the current worsening housing crisis and affordability issues around the country.
Bob Manning, Cairns Mayor, has suggested the introduction of a visitor levy of 2.5% on short-term accommodation, which he says will raise more than $16 million per annum for destination marketing and tourism industry development. The Cairns Council hopes to garner support from the State Government to implement additional measures, focused on curtailing the short-term accommodation industry and affecting mum and dad property owners looking to use STRA as an additional stream of retirement income.
In addition to limiting the number of new permits issued in residential areas for whole home properties to be used for short term rental accommodation, Hobart City Council is now considering following Brisbane City Council’s footsteps in introducing higher council rates for STRA property owners.
We have been actively engaging with stakeholders and the media to argue that these types of measures are unlikely to bring about any real or meaningful change to the housing supply issues facing Tasmania.
The Tasmanian Planning Commission will have three months to decide whether these types of proposals comply with the State’s current planning laws. Meanwhile, the State government has convened a housing reference group to develop a 20-year housing strategy by 2023.
The Dorset Council in Tasmania has developed its own accommodation booking system removing the need for third-party short-term accommodation providers like Stayz. Dorset Mayor, Greg Howard argues that the commissions generated from the Council’s new booking platform will be reinvested in Dorset and used to fund its mountain bike trail maintenance costs. Dorset Council’s general manager, Tim Watson has acknowledged how crucial short-stay providers are to the region’s tourism however, the Council is looking for other funding alternatives that don’t include increasing rates for homeowners. As of 1st July, accommodation providers in Dorset can now sign up for the council-run booking system through its Blue Derby website.
This month, a decision was taken by Bega Council on the NSW South Coast on proposed plans for a 180-day cap on short-term rental accommodation. After preparing a housing crisis strategy in 2021 and undertaking public consultation, Councillors agreed that prohibiting short term rentals with the idea that such limitations would see properties enter the pool for longer-term rentals did not make sense. This is because many STRA properties are not considered affordable to lower- and middle-income tenants traditionally seeking long term rental accommodation.
In a public forum during the consultation, Professor Roz Hansen, who has more than 40 years’ experience as an urban planner, confirmed there were better ways to address the issue of affordable housing than limiting the operations of short-term rental accommodation. For many months, we have been actively sharing this same viewpoint with Australian media to great success.
Under a new motion passed by the Hobart City Council this month, the number of whole home properties used for short term rental accommodation will be restricted further as the Council moves to stop issuing new permits in residential areas.
As always, we remain vocal and committed to proposed alternatives such as compulsory and simple registration for all properties listed on a STRA platform and the creation of a mandatory code of conduct for short-term rental property owners and managers at a State level rather than haphazard regulations which vary from council to council.
Alongside other short term rental accommodation providers, we have been actively engaging with stakeholders, partners affected and the media to argue that these types of measures are unlikely to bring about any meaningful change to the multi-faceted, housing supply crisis in Tasmania.
Popular tourism hotspots Busselton, Yallingup and Dunsborough will be subject to harsh new regulations on short term accommodation, as of September 2022.
To avoid a patchwork system of STRA regulations, we are strongly urging these local governments to wait until the findings of the WA government’s public consultation into state-wide short-term rental regulations are first released later this year.
Due to come into effect in September 2022, popular tourism hotspots Busselton, Yallingup and Dunsborough will be subject to harsh new regulations on short term accommodation. The first stages of proposed regulatory changes by the council will include a ban preventing people from leaving their dogs unattended at the STRA property at any time, a limit on the number of guests allowed past 10pm, and the setting of a maximum number of vehicles permitted to be parked at the property.
To avoid a patchwork system of STRA regulations, we are strongly urging local governments to wait until the findings of the WA government’s public consultation into state-wide short-term rental regulations – of which there were more than 2000 submissions.
The Shire of Dandaragan, which includes Jurien Bay and Cervantes, is currently seeking public feedback on its revised local planning policy for STRA. This follows an increase in noise complaints as the borders are now back open and tourism begins to pick up again.
The modified policy would include restrictions on maximum guest numbers as well as a tightening of existing expectations of property managers.
As always, we remain vocal and committed to the following proposed alternatives at a State level rather than a local level:
As outlined in its draft budget for 2022-23, Warnambool City Council is one again debating the merits of imposing a $400 fee on property owners who choose to list their homes on STRA platforms like Stayz.
We are engaging closely with stakeholders and the media to publicly argue that this will only serve to harm local tourism and undermine economic growth for the region. As further updates on the proposal become available, we will share these with partners.
The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has proposed changes including introducing a cap of 60 nights after which un-hosted STRA in WA will require development approval from the council. We have serious concerns that this will have a severe impact on the short-term letting sector if developed into policy. We have already made several representations to the Government and to the WAPC expressing these concerns, and have been taking part in productive conversations with influential stakeholders across the state.
We are currently preparing a submission as part of this consultation process. When our submission is finalised, we will share further detail with partners. WA is also proposing a state-wide registration system for un-hosted STRA properties which we are in favour of.
In a “knee jerk” attempt to increase the supply of long-term rentals, on the 21st March 2022, the Hobart City Council passed a motion to prevent any new permits for whole-home STRA from being issued in the Hobart area. Existing permits will not be affected and there will be an exception for short-stay accommodation in mixed-zone and commercial areas, however.
Alongside other industry leaders, we are engaging closely with stakeholders to argue that instead of causing harm to local tourist operators and hamstringing economic growth further as we begin to recover from the pandemic, Hobart City Council should instead focus on approving more homes being built in the area. We will continue to share updates with partners.
Effective as of 1 March 2022, new fire safety standards for short term rental accommodation (STRA) come into effect in NSW. Under the new rules, STRA activities of three months or less are no longer covered by the residential tenancy framework which means that our STRA partners must comply with a new set of fire safety standards.
The new fire safety standards apply to both hosted and non-hosted properties and include rules for exit doors, portable fire extinguishers, fire blankets, smoke and heat alarms and evacuation diagrams. More information on the new fire safety standards as they relate to NSW STRA can be found here.
Vrbo continues to seek to engage with the State government on the urgent need to address state planning provisions which act as a barrier to growth in the short-term rental accommodation sector.
Vrbo will continue to liaise with Noosa Council and media, arguing that new restrictions regulating the ongoing operation of short-term accommodation will have no material impact on the supply of rentals and affordable housing in the area. We are working closely with our partners to keep you informed of any further updates and compliance issues.
The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) have initiated a consultation process on a draft Tourism Position Statement. Proposed changes include introducing a cap of 60 nights after which unhosted STRA in WA will require development approval from the council. We have serious concerns that this will have a severe impact on the short-term letting sector if developed into policy. We have already made several representations to the Government and to the WAPC expressing our concerns.
We are currently preparing a submission as part of this consultation process. When our submission is finalised, we will share further detail with partners. We also encourage partners to examine the details here and provide feedback and submissions of their own. The consultation period closes 6 March.
WA is also proposing a state-wide registration system for unhosted STRA properties.
With regards to the proposed state-wide registration scheme, partners may also share feedback here.
The City of Busselton has voted to oppose a new set of rules regulating STRA by the State government, with the Director of Planning, Paul Needham, arguing that the new rules (proposed in December) do not go far enough and that the Busselton community is in favour of tighter regulation. As it stands, all STRA owners in Busselton must register with the City and they are required already to show development approval.
Vrbo continues to seek to engage with the State government on the urgent need to address state planning provisions which act as a barrier to growth in the short-term rental accommodation sector. We continue to pursue 1:1 meetings with relevant Ministers and government officials to share concerns and recommendations for the sector more broadly.
New local laws adopted by Noosa Council came into effect on 1 February 2022, regulating the ongoing operation of short-term accommodation. Complaints will now be managed through a centralised 24/7 complaints hotline. Short stay properties are also required to display an approval notice at the front of the property, including the 24/7 complaints hotline number. Additional information on these changes has been published on the Noosa Council homepage (see here).
Going one step further, the new legislation also outlines guests must not display loud aggressive behaviour, yelling, screaming, arguing, excessively loud cheering, clapping or singing. “A level of noise that is in excess of the acceptable levels described by the Queensland Government legislation for environmental protection” will be prohibited. This ban has been met with criticism and opposition by property managers, tourists, and tourism operators across the region for being overly prescriptive and near impossible to police.
Vrbo has continued to seek to liaise with Council and media, arguing that these restrictions will have no material impact on the supply of rentals and affordable housing in the area. We will continue to work closely with our partners to keep you informed of any further updates and compliance issues.
From 31 January 2022, short stay providers must register their property on the new State Government-run short term rental accommodation register. Prior to this, Byron Shire Council was excluded from the policy pending other planning measures. For more information, please consult the local council website here.
Towards the end of last year, Alpine Shire Council issued all local ratepayers a letter asking them to switch their properties away from short stay letting and towards longer term rentals. This is to help tackle the housing shortages across Victoria due to a lack of supply and the increasing trend of people leaving cities like Melbourne for regional areas.
Vrbo has written to the Council, outlining the real economic contribution short term rental accommodation makes to not only local tourism but also industries and employment levels in the area.
The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) have initiated a consultation process on a draft Tourism Position Statement. Vrbo is preparing a submission as part of this process.
We have serious concerns that the draft position statement would have a severe impact on the short-term letting sector if developed into policy. Vrbo has already made representations to the Government and to the WAPC expressing our concerns.
When our submission is finalised, we will share further detail with partners. We also encourage partners to examine the details here and provide feedback and submissions of their own.
With regards to the proposed state-wide registration scheme, partners may also share feedback here.
In December 2021, Shire of Broome councillors voted in favour of drafting a new planning policy which will allow for greater regulation of short term rental accommodation in the area. The shire is seeking to formalise its stance against short stay rentals after tourism providers in the local government area argued that unregulated providers have unfairly benefited from a lack of regulation.
When Council has finalised its proposed position, we anticipate sharing our view through a consultation process.
Queensland Industry Reference Group continues its review
Vrbo continues to pursue 1:1 meetings with Ministers and government officials as part of the recently re-instated Queensland Industry Reference Group. The Group is tasked with mapping a pathway forward for accommodation across the state. Vrbo and Airbnb have and will continue to meet jointly with the QLD State Government to state concerns about current planning rules affecting short-term rentals (the recent actions of Noosa Shire Council and Whitsunday Regional Council are indicative of the misconceptions about STRA that remain in the state).
Noosa Shire Council adopts new local law for short term rental accommodation
On 21 October, Noosa Council adopted a new local law for short stay letting and home hosted accommodation which is set to commence on 1 February 2022. The local law regulates the ongoing operation of short-term accommodation and under the new local law, all existing and new properties operating short stay letting will be required to make a one-off application for approval. Annual renewal of the approval will also be mandatory for as long as the short-term rental activity is carried out at the property.
On commencement of the new local law on 1 February 2022, complaints will be managed through a centralised 24/7 complaints hotline. Short stay let properties are required to display an approval notice at the front of the property, including the 24/7 complaints hotline number and approval number. Further information on these changes, have been published on the Noosa Council homepage as well as an official guide (see here). Vrbo has been liaising with council and media, arguing that these restrictions will have no material impact on the supply of rentals and affordable housing in the area, and will instead hamstring local tourism in the area. We will continue to work closely with our partners to keep you informed of any further updates and compliance issues.
Whitsunday Regional Council may follow in the footsteps of Noosa Shire Council
Over the past 2 months, Whitsunday Regional Council members have been debating how to improve local STRA policies and have conceded that a balance needs to be struck between neighbourhood amenity, the rights of property owners and the rights of holiday-goers. Various ideas are being canvassed to address noise complaints and rental availability issues including the possibility of a dedicated ‘Party Zone’ where holidaymakers can enjoy themselves without interrupting nearby residents. Meanwhile, other councillors have suggested the creation of a local law including a demerit point system for properties.
Shire of Broome propose changes to STR industry and regulation
The shire is seeking to formalise its stance against short term rentals after tourism providers in the local government area argued that unregulated providers have unfairly benefited from a lack of regulation. The proposed changes will see the Shire of Broome require any properties to be a minimum of 350sqm; a property manager who lives or works within 15 minutes of the property to be readily contactable; a 21-day public consultation period on any property applying to be approved as a short-term accommodation provider, with neighbours given written notification; and a formal complaints process with any complaints needing to be addressed within 12 hours.
Vrbo has been vocal in media about the impact this will have on the tourism industry and broader economy and has argued that these measures go too far. However, Vrbo does support the introduction of a formal code of conduct for guests and registration of all properties on a publicly available database.
NSW Code of Conduct exclusion register – ongoing review
Under Part 4.2 of the code, NSW Fair Trading is required to keep and administer an exclusion register that is publicly available.
The public-facing Exclusion Register is currently under development and is expected to commence in May 2022. Requirements under the Code relating to the Exclusion Register will start when the public-facing register becomes operational.
Vrbo remains committed to updating our partners and stakeholders in the lead up to the one year review of all relevant NSW state-based legislative changes.
Noosa Shire Council is set to introduce new STR regulations under local legislation
Noosa Council looks as if it will ratify new short-stay local laws on Thursday, 21 October, introducing restrictions on approvals for STR properties from February 2022, rules around parking and a requirement that a designated contact person be available 24/7, located within 20 km of the property and able to respond to complaints within 30 minutes. Further, guests will need to comply with a new code of conduct and the property manager and/or designated contact person will be responsible for its enforcement.
Stayz has been liaising with council and media, arguing that these restrictions will have no material impact on the supply of rentals and affordable housing in the area, and will instead hamstring local tourism. We will continue to notify our partners of the outcome of these council meetings and any new regulations that come into effect.
Queensland Industry Reference Group is reinstated
On 5 October, the State Government’s Queensland Industry Reference Group, established in 2019 to examine regulation for STRA, reconvened to review its previous actions and map a pathway forwards for accommodation in the state. Unexpectedly, it appears that the Government is seeking to abandon the IRG process and instead leave local government to regulate short-term letting. We are now wary that the good work of the IRG is at risk of being ignored.
Stayz will be meeting further with the State Government to outline concerns about current planning rules affecting short-term rentals (the recent actions of Noosa Shire Council are indicative of the challenges to the local STRA industry).
NSW Government STRA registration applies from November 1
As the deadline for the new state-wide regulatory framework for STR accommodation fast approaches (1 November), Stayz continues to engage with the State Government and urges all STRA providers to pre-register their details.
Stayz, along with other booking platforms, has continued to share our concerns on the roll-out, especially that departmental staff seem ill-prepared to answer questions about the code or registration process. Until 1 November, regulation of short-term rentals will continue to be the responsibility of local councils. We encourage our partners to stay abreast of any changes in the meantime.
NSW appoints new State Premier
Stayz wrote to the newly appointed NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, congratulating him on his appointment and reiterating the need for strong State Government leadership to support post-COVID recovery, the contribution of the STRA industry to the economy and the need for a consistent, state-wide regulatory framework for short-term rental accommodation.
The new Premier is known to support less onerous regulations for small businesses, and Stayz will continue to provide advice to him as the new regulations go live so that as the one-year review period commences, we are able to share where we think the new system requires amendment.
COVID-19 travel updates
Each state and territory government is updating travel guidance periodically. However, we’ve included some major announcements below:
• Until 1 November 2021, people in Greater Sydney cannot travel beyond Greater Sydney for a holiday or recreational visits, including day trips.
• Greater Sydney includes the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Shellharbour and Wollongong local government areas.
• People in NSW who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now travel to Victoria without needing to quarantine or isolate.
• The border bubble has also been reinstated between NSW, Shepparton and Broken Hill.
• From 1 November, fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will be able to enter Australia via NSW without having to quarantine (provided that they have returned a negative COVID test).
• Limits on the number of people allowed into Australia via NSW will also be removed.
• Travel restrictions between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne will remain until Victoria reaches the 80 per cent full vaccination threshold for those aged 16 and over. At this stage, the indicative date for this change to come into effect is 5 November.
• While the details remain unclear, the Victorian Government has suggested that fully vaccinated, returning Australians, permanent residents and their immediate families will be able to quarantine at home by mid-November (provided that they have returned a negative COVID test).
• Once 70 per cent of Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, current travel restrictions on people who have been in New South Wales, Victoria or the ACT in the last 14 days will be somewhat eased. At this stage, the indicative date for this change to come into effect is 19 November.
• Once 80 per cent of Queenslanders aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, travellers who have been to a declared hotspot in the last 14 days can arrive by plane or car into Queensland without needing to quarantine. They will however, need to show evidence of a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours.
• After 17 December, fully vaccinated people flying directly into Queensland (who can demonstrate a negative COVID test within 72 hours) will be able to undergo 14 days of quarantine at home.
• Anyone who does not meet these conditions will need to complete 14 days of quarantine in a government facility.
Hobart City Council votes in favour of blocking new permits on whole home short-term rental (STR) accommodation
At the end of August, Hobart City Council voted to impose a ban on the issuing of new permits for whole home STR accommodation. The Council also voted to advocate for state-wide regulation of STR accommodation, in line with similar rules that are due to come into force in NSW later this year.
Vrbo has argued that unfortunately, Hobart City Council’s decision to progress restrictions will only serve to put the state’s fragile tourism economy at risk.
Preparations for NSW Government registration framework continue
As the deadline for the introduction of the new NSW state-wide regulatory framework for STR accommodation fast approaches (November 1), Vrbo continues to engage with the State Government.
Pre-registration is available to property owners and, notwithstanding our ongoing discussions with the Government on the practical and technical commencement, we encourage early registration. Details on how to pre-register can be found here.
Vrbo is working closely with other major booking platforms to impress on the NSW Government the need for time and technical preparation in the lead up to November. A reminder too that, until the new state-wide STRA planning policy comes into effect, regulation of short-term rentals will continue to be the responsibility of local councils. We encourage our partners to stay abreast of any changes in the meantime.
Dubbo City Council reverses short-term rental cap decision
Under the new NSW state-wide regulatory framework, Dubbo Regional Council initially determined that there would be a 180-day cap on short-term accommodation. In a backflip, councillors from both Bega Valley Shire and Dubbo Regional Councils have voted to rescind these plans with Dubbo Mayor, Stephen Lawrence, stating that STR accommodation is an important part of the region’s housing mix.
Vrbo welcomes the decision from both Councils to allow short-term rental accommodation properties to be available all year round.
Queensland Government potentially considering state-wide regulatory framework
Noosa City Council is waiting on results from its housing needs assessment as part of its effort to determine the contributing factors to a deteriorating rental situation in the area. Noosa Mayor, Clare Stewart, has conceded that while 23 percent of coastal properties are used for short-term holiday accommodation, these comprise mainly premium accommodation and are unlikely to be considered 'affordable' or impact the rental market in any meaningful way.
Based on other recent comments, there seems to be renewed appetite from the Queensland government to revisit a state-wide regulatory framework in the interests of consistency, which we and our partners endorse.
As the 1 November 2021 deadline for the introduction of the new NSW statewide regulatory framework for short-term rental accommodation fast approaches, we are continuing to seek engagement with the Government to ensure the sector is ready.
Unfortunately, discussions with the NSW Government over its registration system (which Stayz strongly supports in principle) continue to be slower than hoped, and we continue to harbour concerns that the technical aspects which require implementation may not be tested sufficiently to ensure a smooth commencement.
Stayz is working with the other major booking platforms to impress on the NSW Government the fact that there needs to be enough time for industry to implement these important changes and we will continue keep partners further appraised of developments.
Pre-registration is available to property owners and, notwithstanding our ongoing discussions with the Government on the practical commencement, we encourage your early registration. Details on how to pre-register can be found here.
Councillors from Bega Valley Shire and Dubbo Regional Councils both voted to rescind plans for a 180-day cap for short-term rental accommodation in their respective regions. The NSW Government had indicated that a 180-day cap would apply to those regions, but councillors voted to overturn the plans to impose a cap in those regions.
Stayz welcomes the decision from both councils to allow short-term rental accommodation properties to be available all year under the new NSW Government policy for our sector.
Noosa Regional Council recently voted to commission a further review into housing affordability and accessibility in the region.
We’ve questioned the utility of commissioning another housing review when the Council simply ignored the findings of the previous assessment (see below).
A 2017 Noosa Council Report titled, ‘Housing Needs Assessment’, by Briggs and Mortar stated that:
‘It is accepted that there are many social and economic reasons that Short-Term Rental Accommodation is required in Noosa Shire, both for visitor and resident accommodation, and that there are many beneficial impacts of utilising otherwise unused accommodation. Without the availability of this accommodation, the identified shortage of small and affordable accommodation, especially in the rental market, would be significantly greater...
Council advises that, in the majority of cases, short-term rentals have not caused problems, including student home stays, although some issues of overcrowding have occurred.
It would appear that the most effective regulation is at the State level.’
The repeat of the Briggs & Mortar review comes as the Council continues to squeeze mum-and-dad holiday homeowners with higher property rates, arbitrary amenity restrictions and a maze of new planning rules.
As the deadline for the introduction of the new NSW statewide regulatory framework for short-term rental accommodation approaches (1 November), we are continuing to seek engagement with the Government to ensure we are ready.
Unfortunately, discussions with the NSW Government over its registration system (which Stayz strongly supports in principle) have been slower than hoped, and we harbour concerns that the technical aspects which require implementation may not be tested sufficiently to ensure a smooth commencement.
Stayz is working with the other major booking platforms to impress on the NSW Government the fact that there needs to be enough time for the industry to implement these important changes, and will keep partners further appraised of developments.
In late May 2021, Noosa Shire Council released plans to double down on its arbitrary local law for short-term rental accommodation with a rates increase for holiday homes.
If implemented, the proposal from Noosa Shire Council will drive up the cost of holiday accommodation and fail to address the concerns cited by the Council.
In what we hope is a positive development, there now seems to be a renewed appetite from the State Government to revisit the earlier work of an Industry Reference Group. We expect that in the next few weeks, the Government will outline some next steps to get things back on track.
The City of Melville, in Perth’s southern suburbs, recently passed a new local law that will restrict the number of guests allowed in a short-term rental.
While it is understandable that the City of Melville is seeking to improve amenity in its community, the WA Government is working on a whole-of-government regulatory framework for our sector.
Arbitrary caps on the number of people allowed in a holiday rental will fail to meaningfully address the issue of anti-social behaviour in short-term rental accommodation. Our experience shows that limits on the number of people allowed in a holiday rental – whether it is six, eight, ten or more people – will not resolve questions about amenity as effectively as a robust, mandatory code of conduct that is backed by penalties for poor behaviour.
You can read more about the new rules here.
The City of Busselton Council is considering commencing a review that proposes a number of further arbitrary restrictions for short-term rental accommodation at an upcoming council meeting. The proposed arbitrary restrictions include:
Stayz is currently working with the WA Government on a statewide regulatory framework that will improve our sector. To date, the WA Government has convened an interdepartmental taskforce to provide advice on the development of such a framework. This regulatory framework is proposed to include the introduction of a statewide register of all short-term rental accommodation and a code of conduct.
We will seek to keep impacted partners informed about these changes as developments occur.
Following the Tasmanian election last month, the incumbent Liberal Government was returned.
Stayz has worked very productively with the Tasmanian Government over the past few years to build a nation-leading regulatory framework for our sector in that state.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Tasmanian Government as they continue to refine the rules for our growing sector.
On 13 April 2021, the NSW Government announced they will delay implementation of its short-term rental accommodation regulatory framework until 1 November 2021.
A few days earlier, on 9 April 2021, the NSW Government announced that the implementation of its regulatory framework would occur on 30 July 2021, despite limited consultation with the industry and, by their own admission, that the final design was still incomplete.
Stayz led the calls for the NSW Government to delay the implementation of new rules as a result of a lack of testing and integration of its new registration system, and the expansion of regions covered by its unproven 180-day cap for short-term rental accommodation. The regions that are proposed to be covered by the 180-day cap are: Greater Sydney, Newcastle, Dubbo, Bega Valley Shire, certain parts of Clarence Valley and certain land in Muswellbrook.
Stayz has urged the NSW Government to use the additional time it has allowed itself to work with industry to undertake proper trialling and testing of the new register of all short-term rental listings.
Stayz has also called on the NSW Government to reconsider the expansion of regions covered by its unproven 180-day cap on the availability of short-term rental accommodation, while also noting the complexity it introduces by only applying the cap to unhosted properties.
On 18 March 2021, Noosa Shire Council voted to progress its arbitrary local law for short-term rental accommodation in the world-famous tourist destination. The local law, which opened for community consultation on 9 April 2021, contains a laundry-list number of arbitrary provisions, including:
Stayz does not support the imposition of local laws for our industry, and urges the Queensland Government to act with a statewide regulatory framework for our industry. Stayz also believes the proposed measures are arbitrary and will put the tourism sector’s recovery at risk. More information about the changes can found here.
The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River recently announced it is acting to remove the ability for dwellings near the Margaret River Town Centre to be converted for use as short-term rental accommodation. The measure is expected to be temporary and will only apply to new applications.
The move comes as the WA Government is working on whole-of-government regulatory framework for our sector. To date, the WA Government has convened an interdepartmental taskforce to provide advice on development of such a framework, including the introduction of a register of all short-term rental accommodation.
Stayz has called on the Council to join our efforts to work with the WA Government to implement its register of all short-term rentals and use the data that is collected by this tool to point to solutions that will better address the key concerns of locals.
More information about the proposed changes can be found on Council’s website here.
On 21 February 2021, the South Australian Government ruled out the application of a bed tax on short-term rental accommodation following media speculation on the subject. Stayz supports this decision.
In response to the media speculation, Stayz said that a tax on holiday homes will fail to address the questions about housing accessibility and affordability in South Australia.
Rather than a new tax, Stayz advocates for statewide regulation that contains a simple register of all short-term rental listings, a code of conduct that is backed by a strikes-based disciplinary regime and consistent planning rules for the breadth of the industry.
Stayz looks forward to engaging with the SA Government to build a statewide regulatory response for our growing sector.
Stayz continues to impress on the NSW Government the need to work with the sector on the implementation of its new regulatory regime.
While Stayz supports much of the reform package, we are concerned about the Government’s fragmented and incomplete implementation of the new rules. This is critical for platforms like us to have the systems, processes and technology build in place to be operational on day one of the regime.
We will keep partners updated as pertinent information about the implementation of the new regulations becomes available.
On 3 March 2021, Moira Shire Council in Victoria flagged that it was considering the implementation of a local law for short-term rentals. The local law would require the registration of holiday rentals in area.
While Stayz understands the drivers behind this potential course of action, we would rather see action at State Government level.
Our proposed statewide regulatory solution, that contains a register and code of conduct, will impose accountability on the entire sector and enable regulators to deal with complaints about amenity swiftly and decisively.
We will continue to watch these developments closely and inform local partners of any updates.
In December 2020, the Tasmanian Government released its quarterly housing report that showed the value of short-term rental accommodation in that state.
The factual report painted a clear picture about the total number of properties used for short-term rental. An analysis of the findings showed that only 0.95 per cent of Tasmanian dwellings are not available on the long-term housing market as a result of our industry. This is far less than the commonly cited numbers by other commentators, who often overstate our industry’s impact on housing accessibility and affordability.
The data-sharing regime is an effective resource for all levels of government to progress informed policy about housing, and we’ve encouraged all stakeholders to make use of this data before jumping to incorrect conclusions.
As 2021 gets into full swing, Stayz is gearing up for State Governments to continue examining regulatory approaches for the short-term rental sector. Stayz is working closely with regulators to press our case for sensible, light-touch regulation.
Around the country, several states have work programmes focussed on our industry. In New South Wales, the new Code of Conduct came into force late last year and we remain engaged with the government on the implementation of its long-promised register of all properties. We are also engaging constructively with the recently re-elected Queensland Government to recommence the industry-led regulatory process that has proposed sensible reform for our industry in recent times. In Western Australia, we look forward to engaging in constructive conversations to implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Enquiry that the Government accepted in early 2020. Finally, we continue to work with the Tasmanian Government to refine its nation-leading data-sharing regime, which is already proving to be an effective resource for policy-makers.
NSW Fair Trading has announced the exclusion register, which we understood was to go live with the Code of Conduct tomorrow, will now be delayed until mid-2021 to coincide with the commencement of the premises register. Read the Statement of Regulatory Intent from the Fair Trading Commissioner.
The NSW Government’s long-awaited Holiday Rental Code of Conduct will come into force in just a matter of days. We’ve compiled the following information for you:
On 12 November 2020, Coffs Harbour City Council voted to retain its current approach to short-term rental accommodation in the region. This means all short-term rental accommodation listings will continue to be available 365 days a year in the tourist destination.
Stayz is supportive of this decision, and we believe it will provide a welcome boost to the tourism sector in the region. In particular, we are heartened by the fact that Council recognised that the NSW Government should do the heavy lifting on regulation for our growing industry.
In recognition of this decision, we believe the NSW Government should now fulfil its side of the bargain and finalise the full suite of regulations for the growing holiday rental sector, particularly the register of all holiday rental listings.
On 19 November 2020, Byron Shire Council’s Planning Committee voted to continue to progress its proposal to restrict the availability of short-term rental accommodation to 90 days in several precincts, while allowing holiday homes in other areas to operate 365 days a year.
In February 2019, the NSW Government announced that Byron Shire would receive an exemption that allowed it to apply for a 90-day night cap for short-term rental accommodation.
Stayz believes Byron Shire Council would be better served by the full suite of reforms to short-term rental accommodation, rather than a counterproductive night cap, in many parts of the well-loved holiday destination.
Rather than a night cap, Stayz believes that Byron Shire should follow Coffs Harbour City Council’s lead by allowing short-term rental accommodation all year round and leave the NSW Government to do the heavy lifting on regulation for our growing industry.
As you may have heard in the media, new laws for short-term rental accommodation (STRA) in NSW will come into effect from 18 December 2020. These new laws impose obligations on booking platforms (like Stayz), holiday rental owners/managers (like you), letting agents and guests. We’ve put together this document to help explain the changes and some of our concerns.
A mandatory Code of Conduct for the Short-Term Rental Accommodation Industry will apply from 18 December 2020. This will impose certain behaviour standards on STRA guests and their visitors regarding unreasonable noise, disruption to neighbours and damage to property. Holiday rental owners have several new obligations under the code, including:
Property managers have similar obligations and must inform owners and guests about the Code.
Our summary of these obligations is not comprehensive, nor is it legal advice. We advise all owners and property managers to familiarise themselves with the Code, particularly their obligations in Sections 2.3 and 2.4, respectively.
The new code of conduct was designed to be introduced in tandem with an STRA premises register; however, NSW Planning has failed to deliver this new tool in time. Once this is developed and commences, owners must register themselves and their premises.
Importantly for holiday rental owners/managers like you, breaches of the code may attract penalties, including warnings or directions to take or cease certain action and fines. Serious breaches of the code may result in a ‘strike’ against an owner and/or their property. Two strikes in a two-year period will result in a listing on the exclusion register, which means the person or property is prohibited from participating in the short-term rental accommodation industry for up to five years.
For what Stayz’s concerns are, how we’re addressing these concerns and what’s next, click through to the full article here.
The NSW Government’s long-awaited Holiday Rental Code of Conduct is scheduled to come into force later this year on 18 December 2020.
For the past several years, Stayz has been working with the NSW Government and other stakeholders on the final text of the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct.
While Stayz supports the text of the Code of Conduct, we believe the Government’s failure to implement a register of all short-term rental accommodation properties will create confusion in our industry. Without the register, complaints about anti-social behaviour will be difficult to act upon and government will still have an incomplete picture of our growing industry. This will mean that the most commonly cited questions about our industry will remain unresolved, which will fuel calls for disadvantageous regulation that will harm our sector.
Also, the short implementation period of the Code of Conduct will leave some partners scrambling to be compliant with their obligations, right on the eve of the most important peak holiday season for the tourism sector in living memory. We will do our best to assist partners who list with us to be compliant with the new Code of Conduct.
Stayz will keep partners updated about developments on this important topic. Information about the Government’s plans can be found at the following link. Additional information can be found in the post immediately below.
The NSW Government has announced a new Code of Conduct for short-term rental accommodation will start on 18 December 2020 to better manage and address:
There are new requirements under the Code for all industry participants including hosts, guests, letting agents and booking platforms. The Code allows the Fair Trading Commissioner to take disciplinary action against participants who breach the Code, including listing people who commit two serious breaches (‘strikes’) within a two-year period on an exclusion register. People on the exclusion register will be banned from participating in short-term rental accommodation for five years.
Here are important resources from this announcement, as well as Vrbo/Stayz statement in response:
Vrbo/Stayz has been closely involved in and supportive of Government efforts to bring structure and certainty to the way STR operates. We remain strongly supportive of the work to bring a Code of Conduct and Register of properties into operation in NSW. However, we have grave reservations about the introduction of this important suite of measures being introduced in a piecemeal fashion because it risks:
For this reason, we urge the Government to delay introduction to ensure that the strong and enforceable scheme, which all stakeholders agreed through years of negotiation, is ready to go.
We will continue to keep our Partners informed of any further developments.
The NSW Government’s long-awaited Holiday Rental Code of Conduct is scheduled to come into force later this year.
For the past several years, Stayz has been working with the NSW Government and other stakeholders on the final text of the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct. We are confident the new Code of Conduct will give the community more certainty that complaints about bad behaviour in short-term rental accommodation will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.
This step is a positive one for the sector and will address some of the reasons that have led to local councils seeking to impose localised restrictions on our sector.
The final text of the Code of Conduct is yet to be released to the public by the NSW Government; however, we will be sure to inform NSW partners once it is released.
On 27 August 2020, Yarra Ranges Council in Victoria passed a new local law to help manage amenity issues in short-term rental accommodation.
The Neighbourhood Amenity Local Law sets out a strikes-based disciplinary regime for short-term rental accommodation in area. As part of this new regime, Yarra Ranges Council will now act on short-stay accommodation properties upon receipt of three nuisance complaints (with evidence) per 12-month period.
While Stayz prefers state-wide regulation for our industry, we support this measure as a template for action by the Victorian Government.
On 20 July 2020, Noosa Council in Queensland passed a new local law to regulate the day-to-day operations of short-term rental accommodation in the area.
The Noosa Plan contained a number of changes, including the below elements:
On 16 June 2020, Coffs Harbour City Council released an options paper about regulation for the short-term rental accommodation sector in the NSW North Coast holiday hotspot.
The Council proposes two options: either retain the 365-day threshold for the availability of short-term rental accommodation or restrict the sector to 180-days per year.
While Stayz understands the desire for action by Council, we believe that night caps will fail to resolve the most commonly cited questions about holiday rental accommodation. As a result, we believe the Council should retain the 365-day threshold for the availability of holiday rental accommodation.
Night caps and other use restrictions for holiday rentals not only put the economic uplift associated with the tourism sector at risk, but also fail to address the four most consistently raised questions about our industry, namely: housing affordability, housing availability, the impact on government resources and service provision and, finally, impact on neighbourhood amenity.
We support Coffs Harbour City Council in their desire to get better certainty about the rules for short-term rentals but urge them to wait until NSW Government introduces its register for short-term rentals and let the data that is collected point to solutions that will address the key concerns of locals.
At a meeting on 21 July 2020, Kiama Municipal Council passed a motion to commence work on an application to the NSW Government to restrict short-term rental accommodation in the NSW South Coast holiday destination.
As is the case in Coffs Harbour, Stayz does not support night caps and we believe that night caps will fail to resolve the most commonly cited questions about holiday rental accommodation. Night caps and other use restrictions for holiday rentals not only put the economic uplift associated with the tourism sector at risk, but also fail to address the four most consistently raised questions about our industry, namely: housing affordability, housing availability, the impact on government resources and service provision and, finally, impact on neighbourhood amenity.
Stayz believes Kiama Municipal Council should wait until the NSW Government introduces its register of short-term rentals and let the data that is collected point to solutions that will address the key concerns of locals.
It is unclear whether Kiama Council has begun such work, and Stayz will be closely following developments on this matter.