Regulatory changes for short stay accommodation

The Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA – a division of AHA) has been lobbying the Tasmanian Government (the government) for regulatory controls of short stay accommodation in the State. Tasmanian Housing Minister Roger Jaensch has just announced the State Government will move to introduce legislation specifically relating to Airbnb and short-term visitor accommodation.

Short stay: play by the rules

The media release incorporates the key details, key points being:

  • The Government will not be changing the ‘rules’ for short-term visitor accommodation as they currently apply;
  • But property owners and online platforms are likely to face a fine if they list without a permit – this affects property owners with investment properties listing on Airbnb and Stayz without a permit;
  • This does not impact ‘traditional’ (accredited) accommodation operators, who are obviously legitimate, or genuine home-sharers who do not require a permit – it’s the group in the middle the government are targeting.

Essentially this addresses the acknowledged challenge around compliance, and the inability for anyone to get a clear grasp of exactly how many property owners are exiting the residential rental market and entering the short-stay visitor accommodation and the uneven playing field in the market. The government was trying to negotiate with Airbnb to receive regular data updates on property listing in Tasmania. Airbnb have apparently been unable to provide what’s required so the government is moving to legislate to compel them to comply with the rules. During the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Short Stay Accommodation, Airbnb agreed to provide ‘supply side’ data to the Inquiry. Ultimately, this information was not supplied.

The announcement will be welcomed by the Tasmanian hotel industry, a direct response to operators fundamental concerns about the uneven playing field in the accommodation market. The community housing sector and Local Government are thought to also be in favour of it.

Auckland, New Zealand

Rates rises of up to 225 per cent as bed tax bites

Aucklanders renting their properties out on websites like Airbnb have been hit with rate rises of up to 225 per cent. The rate increase, also called a ‘bed tax’ is being applied to online accommodation providers through their rates bills. The Auckland Council estimate that the tax will apply to around 3,800 listings of the estimated 8,000 Auckland properties listed on Airbnb. The bed tax is based on the value of the property, its location and the number of nights it was booked for short stay accommodation in the last year.

The rates increase was initially applied to hotels and motels, but was extended to Airbnb and other short stay accommodation sites, after the hotel industry complained about an uneven regulatory playing field.

Melbourne, Australia

As previously advised, the Victorian Government has expressed a willingness to progress the Owners Corporations Amendment (Short Stay Accommodation) Bill 2016 and have it passed in the Legislative Council, prior to the end of the 2018 Victorian Parliamentary sitting year. However, in honouring an election commitment to address problems relating to amenity issues caused by the like of unruly parties in short stay accommodation within apartment buildings, TAA (Vic) has asserted the government also has the opportunity to address regulatory imbalances resulting from the conversion of residential strata title properties into quasi hotels.

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