The Department of Planning and Environment is currently in the process of reforming framework for Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA).
The proposed changes were in response to the ever growing holiday rental market and the perceived inadequacy of regulations, which currently comprised of a voluntary code of conduct first adopted in 2012 and are mostly left in the hands of local governments. As a result, the planning regulations concerning STRA vary from councils to councils.
With growth in the industry outpacing policy changes, owner’s corporations were forced to use strata laws to manage STRA impacts and locally derived planning controls. Due to the difficulty surrounding the permissibility of uses, concerns have been raised by local communities as a result of noise, parking and housing availability.
The reforms provided in the Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW) and Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) introduced:
1. a code of conduct for the short-term rental accommodation industry;
2. a registration system of premises used for short-term rental accommodation; and
3. reforms to strata management powers to allow for prohibition of certain lots to be used for short-term rental accommodation.
Planning Law Considerations
A notable feature of the proposed change is making all STRAs where the host is present a type of Exempt development, removing the need for development consent.
For STRAs located within the greater Sydney regions without the host present, the proposal is to allow the dwelling to be used as STRA for up to 180 days without the need for development consent. The proposal also seeks to categorise STRA located on bush fire prone land Complying Development.
STRA is also proposed to be defined as follow:
“commercial use of an existing dwelling, either wholly or partially, for the purposes of short –term accommodation, but does not include tourist and visitor accommodation”
The newly defined STRA, defines land use will be permitted in all zones where dwellings are permissible and to be permissible in secondary dwellings. It is proposed that some form of residential accommodation, such as boarding houses, seniors housing and group homes, will be excluded from STRA use to ensure they continue to meet their intended purpose.
The exhibition period has closed now for the planned proposals with some communities having a mixed response to the proposals, with more recently the state government providing an exemption to the Byron Shire Council. The Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has promised he would grant a 90-day annual limit on short term letting of empty properties in the area, despite the cap being 180 days in parts of NSW. (See: Lisa Visentin (2019), ‘Byron Shire given 'special exemption' to Airbnb restrictions as Nationals fight to win Ballina’, SMH, 11 February www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/byron-shire-given-special-exemption-to-airbnb-restrictions-as-nationals-fight-to-win-ballina-20190211-p50x2d.html)