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City Council Backs Strata Owners In Airbnb Battle

Sydney Council Backs Owners Corporations in AirBNB battle.

The City of Sydney has sided with Owners Corporations in the battle to control the use of short-term stay services like Airbnb in residential buildings.

Having originally backed an open model for Airbnb regulation within residential apartment buildings, in which owners would be allowed to use their apartment as they see fit, the Sydney city council has now changed its tune.

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Like Melbourne, the majority of Sydney council’s residents now live in apartments and the inner-city council said its change in position had been triggered by a recently-conducted survey.

“More than 75 per cent of our residents live in apartments, so it’s important that we hear how short-term letting is impacting their lives,” a council spokesperson said.

“Our most recent submission suggested consideration be given under strata title laws for strata communities to have a greater say in whether short-term holiday letting should occur in their own strata buildings.

“Short-term letting of whole homes present a range of challenges to strata communities, particularly regarding waste and the use of common spaces.”

The council’s latest submission to the New South Wales government inquiry into short-term holiday lets recommended that Owners Corporations be given greater powers to regulate whether such lets are permissible in their building.

However, under the council’s recommendation, the Owners Corporation would need overwhelming support to implement such a rule.

The recommendation suggests that, “strata communities be given the power to restrict short-term letting in their building … where there is strong support, such as a 75 per cent majority [of owners].”

The council’s recommendations have been supported by the Property Council of Australia (PCA) NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald.

“We don’t generally advance a position of banning anything,” she said.

“But there is obviously a problem in some strata schemes of home lets being used as party houses and there may be a preponderance of these in locations which are highly desirable on any given weekend.

“Given that there is a problem there, we propose that owners in strata schemes should be able to determine whether it’s appropriate. It’s about giving the owners of property the right to say what can happen in their property.”

Both the Sydney council and PCA also noted that there should be no ban or regulation of genuine sharing, where the host is only renting a room in their property and will be present throughout the course of the stay.

Although Sydney has Australia’s highest concentration of apartments, Melbourne and wider Victoria remains Australia’s Airbnb capital.

While the Victorian government is conducting its own inquiry into short-term stays, the Melbourne City Council is yet to make a definitive statement on its stance towards platforms like Airbnb.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, home to the likes of Rye, Sorrento and Dromana, has previously proposed new rules which would require short-stay hosts to register with the council and would ban parties between 10pm and 8am.

While the battle continues on a state-to-state basis, Melbourne apartment owner-occupiers may be buoyed by the change of stance from Sydney councils on short-term rentals and hold out hope that Melbourne’s own council follows suit.

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