Amendments to the Federal Building Code relating to the classification of 1b buildings have been announced, and may well have significant compliance implications 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 sharing 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 in our localities and the inaction or unwillingness of our councils in confronting 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, as in 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 had meetings with Victoria’s Red Tape Commissioner who has been tasked with removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to business development and who is across the Victorian Government’s other initiatives in this area.
We will continue to be involved so the concerns of our sector continue to be voiced.