Short Term Holiday Letting

(Question Time, 6 August 2019, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

Mr ALEX GREENWICH (Sydney) (15:15): My question is directed to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation. Given it has been some time since legislation relating to short-term holiday letting passed this Parliament, will the Minister update the House on the progress of the code of conduct and the consideration of a registration scheme for short-term letting?

Mr KEVIN ANDERSON (TamworthMinister for Better Regulation and Innovation) (15:15): I thank the member for Sydney for his question and for his continued interest in short-term holiday letting.

The member for Sydney met with me last month to discuss the code of conduct. I appreciate his input into the process and his advocacy on behalf of his community. There are a significant number of interested parties, particularly in and around his electorate, who are keen to know how the code of conduct is progressing.

Short-term holiday letting is a boom industry in New South Wales that is worth an estimated $15 billion to the State's economy. The New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government is working hard to provide certainty to communities, not only in and around metropolitan areas but also in regional New South Wales where short-term letting is often a significant contributor to the local economy. In these times of drought, sometimes short stays can provide the sort of diversified income that is needed to keep a community alive. Councils and other hosts are all interested in short-term rental accommodation.

As the member for Sydney would know, last year the Government announced it will implement a statewide policy comprising a number of initiatives: a statewide planning instrument, permitting the use of dwellings for short-term holiday letting under certain conditions, including limits on the days the activity can take place; a mandatory code of conduct for online booking platforms, letting agents, hosts and guests; and clarification that strata schemes can adopt by-laws that prohibit short-term holiday letting where the property is not the host's principal place of residence. At the same time we want to ensure our whole-of-government framework for short‑term holiday letting will work as intended and in line with people's expectations. That is why we will seek further feedback from the community and industry on both the code of conduct and the draft planning instrument via a discussion paper. I am sure the member for Sydney can appreciate that it is a complex area that involves planning policy as well as local government input. I can advise the member that the Government will release a discussion paper in the near future.

Interested organisations and individuals will be invited to provide a submission on the proposed draft planning instruments, the draft code, the draft amending regulation and associated processes. One size does not fit all, so it is important to take all of that information and consultation on board. The Government wants to help property owners earn income from short-term letting and support the expansion of the local and State tourist and visitor accommodation market, particularly in times of drought in regional New South Wales where that supplementary income can mean the difference between making a profit or not. We also need to ensure the safety of guests and protect the local character and amenity of the community.

The Government has engaged with many relevant stakeholders to ensure the draft code incorporates industry and community feedback. I will update the member on some of those industry stakeholders whom we have met with so far as part of the consultation: Airbnb, HomeAway Australia, the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, the Property Council of Australia, the Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation Association, the Accommodation Association of Australia, the Property Owners Association of NSW, Estate Agents Co‑operative, the Owners Corporation Network, the Strata Community Association, Destination NSW, the Tenants' Union of NSW, the Restaurant & Catering Association, Local Government NSW and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. I also sought the member for Sydney's input into the draft code.

A balance needs to be struck between protecting individuals' privacy and the industry's need to access the exclusion register so they may be protected under the code. I can assure the member for Sydney that the draft code of conduct will include mechanisms to enable compliance as well as enshrining a two-strike policy for industry participants. If a participant receives two strikes within two years for breaching the code, the participant will be excluded from the industry for five years. That is just one example of how we are navigating emerging markets in a modern-day share economy. As the market continues to develop, individuals and organisations will continue to find ways of delivering goods and services to the community. The Government is committed to reviewing the legislation to ensure the market remains equitable for the New South Wales residents. I would like to thank the member for Sydney for his interest in this matter. We will stay close to him and ensure he receives a copy of the draft code when it is released in the near future.