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Alex is committed to government transparency and accountability; protecting the natural and urban environments, open space and Sydney’s unique heritage; retaining inner city social and affordable housing; the humane treatment of animals; improving transport options; and fairness and equality for the LGBTI communities.
 

Short-term Holiday Letting

(Questions Without Notice, 08 March 2017, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation. Will the government protect strata communities by ensuring owners corporations have the ability to permit, limit and set conditions for short-term letting in their buildings? 

Response from Mr Matt Kean, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation:

I thank the excellent member for Sydney for his question and acknowledge his keen interest in this matter and his commitment to achieving a great outcome for his community, as he always does. I also acknowledge that his electorate is particularly attractive to property owners and residents and holidaymakers who make deals relating to short-term letting. This is a complex issue. On the one hand we have property owners and residents who want to make money from their home and on the other hand we have residents who want, and are indeed entitled to, peace and security in their own homes.

As the member for Sydney knows, the Government is considering the findings of the recent parliamentary inquiry—otherwise known as the Coure inquiry—into short-term letting and will respond next month. As the member identified, my role in that response as Minister responsible for strata schemes relates to what power may be given to owners' corporations to allow, control or prohibit short-term letting in their buildings. Approximately 25 per cent of the population of greater Sydney lives in a strata title scheme and it is estimated that by 2040 half of all of Sydney's residential accommodation will be strata titled.

Currently around 75,000 strata title schemes are registered in New South Wales with more than 100 or more schemes being registered every month. The vast majority of these are residential schemes. In the short time I have had ministerial responsibility for this area I have spoken to many people about short-term rentals. I am meeting with the owners' corporation network in the near future and, like many in this place—I am sure that includes the member for Bankstown—I am a keen reader of Jimmy Thomson who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald on the strata issue. Unsurprisingly he is popular in this place and he is well-read. He is one of the best writers for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Thomson's website flat-chat.com.au has given significant coverage to the issue of short-term letting. I was especially interested in his observation that, while proponents of short-term letting talk up its place in the sharing economy, people who live in a strata scheme are already living in their own sharing economy. Strata scheme residents share common facilities, responsibilities and bills. I assure the member for Sydney that we take seriously the need to protect people's rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes.

We understand that running an owners' corporation can be hard work and we certainly do not want to unnecessarily increase that workload. We also understand that short-term letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy. It can fill a void in accommodation, it can increase tourist spending and it potentially can be a nice little earner for a property owner or a resident. I say to the member for Sydney that I know he wants more detail, and quickly. I assure him that these issues are front of mind for the Government and its response to the parliamentary inquiry—the Coure inquiry—will be sound, thoughtful and comprehensive. I thank him for his advocacy on behalf of his community. I am interested in this issue myself and will be working closely with the member for Sydney to achieve a great outcome.