New Code of Conduct for the short-term Rental Accommodation Industry

The prevalence of online booking platforms has seen a significant increase in short-term rental accommodation. Booking platforms have made it very easy for letting agents and hosts to advertise and promote properties and for guests to find short-term accommodation. There has been a shift away from traditional short-term holiday accommodation in hotels, motels and caravan parks to a range of residential premises including free-standing dwellings and apartment buildings in urban and regional centres.

While the economic benefits to homeowners are obvious, there are also impacts to the amenity of neighbourhoods. It is with this in mind, that a new Code of Conduct (Code) for short-term rental accommodation started on 18 December 2020.

A short-term rental accommodation arrangement includes a commercial arrangement for giving a person the right to occupy residential premises for a period of not more than 3 months at any one time[1].

The Code sets out minimum standards of behaviour and requirements for five categories of ‘participants’. The industry participants are taken to include online booking platforms, hosts, guests, letting agents and a person who in trade or commerce ‘facilitates’ short-term rental accommodation arrangements.

While a breach of the Code carries financial penalties, the Code also creates new disciplinary actions that the NSW Commissioner of Fair Trading can take including listing non-compliant participants on an exclusion register. The exclusion register will be a publicly accessible register that is updated in real time to the extent possible. The exclusion register will record a guest that has had two strikes recorded against them in a two year period or a host that has had two strikes recorded against them in a two year period and the Commissioner considers it appropriate that the host be excluded in relation to a premises or any premises. A ‘strike’ is defined in the Code to mean a record of contravention of the Code made against a host, guest or premises with respect to a host and identified as a strike. A record on the exclusion register will remain for five years.

[1] Section 54A Fair Trading Act 1987

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