NSW sets the stage with new Airbnb reform – could Queensland be next?

By Greg Bell

Our southern neighbours have taken a stand against Airbnb in their state, enacting what Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean is calling, "the toughest laws in the world to crack down on bad behaviour" in the short-term letting industry

Much like Sydney, the Gold Coast is home to a great deal of strata property and owners corporations are fed up with their inability to regulate Airbnb in the building. With NSW saying no-more to peer rental nightmares and unfair competition for the hotel industry, many are wondering if Queensland will follow suit. 

How NSW is cracking down on short-term letting

As Kean makes clear, NSW isn't passing minor regulation – we're seeing sweeping changes in the state, including the enforcement of:

A 180-day cap on Sydney listings

Moving forward, unoccupied Airbnb listings within Sydney will have a 180 day per-year cap. Owner-occupier listings, where the resident rents out rooms within their home, however, will not be subject to the cap. Outside of Sydney, local councils will also have the authority to enact their own restrictions, although 180 days will be the maximum. 

Increased authority for owners corporations

Additionally, owners corporations will be permitted to pass building-wide by-laws banning short-term letting altogether. In the past, owners corporations had little power when it came to short-term rentals, and were only allowed to deal with negative guest experiences once they already happened. 

A mandatory Airbnb code of conduct

Airbnb and similar platforms must also agree to a new code of conduct in order to operate in NSW and share data with the state. According to government officials, fines will be strictly enforced, with noncompliance fines for both corporations (up to $1.1million) and individuals (up to $220,000). 

What does this all mean for Gold Coast investors? 

In Australia, Airbnb hosts earn an average of $7,100 annually by letting their space for 51 nights of the year, according to the platform's Economic Impact Study. Others, however, earn much more – buying properties exclusively for short-term-letting in what's become a whole new form of commercial property investing.

"These properties aren't just "excess" unused housing space and there's no "sharing attitude" involved," explains Martin North of Digital Finance Analytics.

While these full-time Airbnb homes are not the norm, they do represent a chunk of the commercial property market, particularly in areas like the Gold Coast with a concentrated rental market and a great deal of strata. Should similar reform makes it way into Queensland, this investment strategy would no longer be feasible. 

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