New laws from 18 December 2020 will impose new obligations on booking platforms, hosts, letting agents and guests.
What is changing?
Code of Conduct
A mandatory Code of Conduct for the Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry will apply from 18 December 2020. This will be declared in the regulations, which will be published on the NSW legislation website.
The Code of Conduct imposes certain behaviour standards on guests in short-term rental accommodation, including:
- You must not make noise that unreasonably disrupts your neighbours
- You must not cause damage to the premises, including any common property in a strata scheme or association property in a community scheme
- You are responsible for the actions of your visitors and must ensure they comply with the behaviour standards set out in the code.
If you don’t meet your obligations under the code, you could face penalties such as warning notices, fines or being added to the exclusion register. A person who is listed on the exclusion register is prohibited from participating in the short-term rental accommodation industry for five years.
There will be several new obligations for hosts under the code:
- You must hold insurance that covers your liability for third-party injuries and death
- You must enable your neighbours to contact you, or your authorised representatives, about concerns relating to your premises by giving them your contact details and being available between 8am and 5pm each day
- You must take reasonable steps to ensure your guests meet their behaviour obligations in the code, including by making them aware that the code applies to their stay and making a copy of the code readily available to them
- You must ensure you do not rent out your premises to a guest who is recorded on the exclusion register
- A short-term rental accommodation premises register is currently being developed and is expected to commence in 2021. Once this commences, you must register yourself and your premises on the short-term rental accommodation premises register.
Booking platform and letting agent obligations
New requirements for platforms and letting agents include:
- You must tell hosts and guests who use your services about the code, how to lodge a complaint under the code, and about any code-related complaint relating to them that you know about.
- You must not advertise or facilitate the offering of accommodation if the host or premises are recorded on the exclusion register.
- Once the short-term rental accommodation premises register commences in 2021, you can only advertise or facilitate the offering of premises that are registered.
Potential penalties for breaching the code
Breaches of the code may attract the following penalties:
- warnings or directions to take or cease certain action
- a ‘strike’ against a host, host’s premises or guest for serious breaches of the code
- recording a guest, host or host’s premises on the exclusion register. Two strikes in a two-year period will result in a listing on the exclusion register, which means the person or premises is prohibited from participating in the short-term rental accommodation industry for five years.
The code sets out a fair process that must be followed before a penalty is imposed, and the code and regulation provide for appeals against decisions to impose a penalty for breach of the code.
Fair Trading will provide further advice about enforcement in relation to exclusion register obligations on hosts and platforms before commencement of the code on 18 December 2020.
There will be changes to planning laws in mid-2021, including a new planning policy that applies consistent regulation of the use of premises for short-term rental accommodation across the whole state of NSW.
A short-term rental accommodation premises register is currently under development for commencement in mid-2021. Hosts will be required to register their premises once that obligation is mandated by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the register itself becomes available online.