Airbnb appears set to score a big win in New South Wales after a government inquiry reportedly gave the company the thumbs up.
The results of a government investigation into the regulation of short-term accommodation in New South Wales were leaked to Fairfax MediaSunday. The inquiry is said to recommend home owners who rent out their homes on Airbnb not face council fines as they currently do in some districts.
The details of the recommendations will be available once the report is tabled in state parliament, but it appears the Airbnb business model will not be subject to heavy regulation. The rules around short term stays currently vary in different council areas, and some hosts have been threatened with heavy fines for renting out rooms.
Despite operating in a legal grey zone, Airbnb says there are 15,000 listings in greater Sydney and more than 33,000 across NSW.
“This report is about giving certainty. Not everyone is a winner, but we have tried to get the balance right for consumers, home owners and the wider community,” Mark Coure, chairman of parliament’s environment and planning committee, told the publication. “Most houses are breaking the law. We want to see a standard applied across the state.”
Owner’s corporations will apparently not be allowed to ban residents from renting out homes on Airbnb, if the NSW government takes up the recommendations, and hosts offering their principal place of residence won’t need to jump through hoops.
However those with investment properties on Airbnb won’t enjoy a complete free for all, and may need to seek council approval.
In a statement, Airbnb Australia country manager Sam McDonagh welcomed the news. “It’s is a massive step in the right direction and we applaud Mark Coure and the Committee members for showing they’re serious about embracing home sharing, and growing the visitor economy,” he said.
A spokesperson for Airbnb said the company had not yet seen the full report.
Responding to news reports about the inquiry, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) said it appeared the government had ignored overseas examples where “the unfettered growth of unregulated short term accommodation” made housing less affordable a criticism levelled at the company in cities like New York.
“We are not against genuine ‘sharing’ whereby a resident shares out their house or apartment, but we are fully opposed to any relaxation of regulations that will allow non-resident commercial property investors…to rent out full apartments or houses,” TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi said in a statement.
“Research shows that 37% of Airbnb listings in Sydney are available 365 days a year, and being operated as a fully commercial property business, while InsideAirbnb estimated that 61% of Sydney listings were for full houses or apartments, involving no ‘sharing’.”
Airbnb has an in-house policy team as well as professional private lobbyists helping it get its way politically in Australia. Much like Uber, it has chosen to ask for forgiveness (or friendly regulation) as it rolls out across the country, rather than beg for permission.
It is fighting for beneficial regulations at the state and local council level across the country, and has regularly encouraged hosts to contact their political representatives on behalf of Airbnb a tactic it used in NSW.
The company has also worked with the South Australian state government to allow Airbnb hosts to operate in the state without commercial development approval.
NSW Parliament has been contacted by Mashable for comment.
Originally found athttp://mashable.com/