All home owners across New South Wales should be allowed to use online house-sharing websites to let out rooms to holiday-makers and tourists without the prospect of being fined, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has found.
Only 12 NSW councils currently have rules allowing home owners to lease properties for short-term stays through websites such as Airbnb.
Other councils either do not have the provisions to regulate the growing industry or have rules that make the practice of short-term accommodation sharing illegal.
An 18-month parliamentary inquiry into the booming short-term rental market has recommended short-term accommodation sharing to be allowed across the state, with the findings also calling on a single set of rules to regulate the industry.
“This is a major part of our economy and the sharing economy is here to stay,” Liberal MP and committee chairman Mark Coure said
“It’s a booming economy.
“We want to see a standard template with planning control across the state to allow short-term letting for principal place of residence to be allowed as an exempt development.”
Councils including the City of Sydney – where the practice is illegal – actively investigate home owners who rent out their accommodation in such a way, with reports of hefty fines being issued.
In February, however, the council made submissions to the inquiry in favour of a regulated approach to balance the interests of home owners seeking to lease their property, along with others wishing to maintain safety and amenity of neighbourhoods.
Mr Coure said many councils did not have provisions regulating the market.
“Councils that hadn’t dealt with short-term letting, hadn’t amended or changed any of their planning laws … have either turned a blind eye or don’t see it as a major issue.”
Mr Coure said the report would create uniformity and remove a great deal of uncertainty.
“There are many many people out there who are renting a spare room or a granny-flat to enter that extra income for a couple of days or a couple of weeks per year,” he said.
Airbnb welcomes report
Homestay letting website Airbnb has welcomed the report and called it a “massive step” in the right direction for the industry.
“It’s great news for thousands of everyday Australians who are making a little extra income by opening their homes to travellers and welcoming them to NSW,” Airbnb Australia manager Sam McDonagh said.
“Regulation is a good thing and it’s great in terms of how it [would] provide certainty for both hosts and guests.”
The inquiry has made a number of recommendations against banning short-term letting by strata or apartment-type complexes.
The findings will be tabled in the NSW Parliament on Wednesday before a government response within three months.