One of HAA’s key roles is as an advocate for our members on issues such as regulations and regulatory barriers to developing business.
Short term accommodation businesses are required to comply with building, planning and environmental health regulations. In the states, local government is responsible for regulating businesses within their jurisdiction. In the ACT and the Northern Territory, regulation is the responsibility of the territory governments.
Companies, such as Airbnb, have challenged the status quo with the introduction of the ‘shared economy’ and our members are now in an environment where non-compliant accommodation operators are competing on tariff unfairly with those businesses that bear the costs of compliance.
We are monitoring and contributing to the decision making of state governments who are grappling with reality of this new business environment. Where appropriate, HAA makes representation and participates in consultation in the formulation of new policies on behalf of our members.
There are encouraging signs that some state governments may adopt much needed reform, as the regulations have been very costly and over burdensome to small business for many years. There is even a move towards making it mandatory for all accommodation operators to be registered. This move would be supported by HAA.
From time to time, HAA conducts surveys to gather first hand accounts of how regulations are a barrier to businesses. You are invited to email your contact details to be included on a database for this purpose. Email” firstname.lastname@example.org, subject ‘Regulation Database’.
Current Issue: Regulations for short term accommodation
Amendments to the Federal Building Code relating to the classification of 1b buildings have been announced, and may well have significant compliance implications for the development of buildings used as short term accommodation. HAA is seeking clarification on this amendment and will inform members as soon as it is available.
The issue with non-compliant accommodation (since Airbnb entered the market) seems to be entering a new phase. After the first flush of enthusiasm for the shared economy by some government ministers and bureaucrats, its impacts are hitting home. These include a worrying reduction in residential rental accommodation, unhappy residents of apartment buildings, dissatisfied guests and guests at risk in non-compliant and inappropriately insured accommodation. Non-payment of income tax and a disregard for any form of quality standards are also issues.
Here in Australia and across the world, government authorities are clamping down on these businesses. We still have problems with some state governments – namely the South Australian and Tasmanian State Governments – who have announced that they are removing regulations for short term accommodation. Understandably, owners of compliant businesses in these states are up in arms about this.
HAA members and other operators in our sector have expressed concern that their businesses are threatened by the unfair competition posed by the introduction of non-compliant accommodation businesses and the inaction or unwillingness of our councils to confront them. However, there are signs that things are changing. The NSW government has released a public paper outlining options for regulating short-term holiday letting across the state, intending to take over what is currently an ad-hoc process from council to council. Under the proposed changes, short-term letters will have to acquire a license and pay a levy to cover the costs of providing extra security and maintaining shared amenities used by their guests. The government may also impose a time limit on letters (similarly to New York where it is illegal to advertise an entire unoccupied apartment for more than 30 days).
In Victoria, the Department of Environment and Planning commissioned an Inquiry into the Owners Corporations Amendment (Short-Stay Accommodation) Bill 2016, which has resulted in recommendations to register all short-term accommodation. The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources is also consulting with various industry sectors representing small business on regulatory review.
Our Executive Officer, Liz Pryor, attended a forum on regulations for the tourism industry to represent our sector’s interests. We have also met with Victoria’s Red Tape Commissioner, who has been tasked with removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to business development and is across the Victorian Government’s other initiatives in this area.
We will continue to be involved in regulatory reviews so that the concerns of our sector are acknowledged.