Stayz, which is controlled by online travel booking giant Expedia, had labelled the introduction of the short-term rental rules as a “slow-moving wreck”. It had asked the government to delay them by at least six months to allow for further consultation and trials of the regulations.
Councils also argued the rules will erode their planning powers, and flew in the face of government assurances that regional councils would retain control over the number of days that empty residential properties can be let for short periods each year.
Under plans announced in 2018, councils outside greater Sydney were to have the power to impose their own caps, no fewer than 180 days a year.
Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said councils appreciated that the government had listened to its concerns by delaying the introduction of the new laws.
“Councils are best placed to balance the pressures of housing affordability and local tourism economies, and we hope that Minister Stokes recognises this in any future changes,” she said.
Mr Stokes said the government was open to listening to councils’ concerns if they showed evidence that Airbnb-style letting was adversely impacting rental affordability in their areas.
He cited the government’s decision to give Byron Shire Council an extension to develop a planning proposal seeking to limit short-term letting to 90 days. The council will have a special exemption from the new rules until January, or until its proposal is determined.
Mr Stokes said the government’s position was that it wanted to provide as much consistency as possible for short-term rental accommodation across the state.
“The councils would love the capacity I think to regulate everything. The platforms I think would love the opportunity to regulate nothing. So the government has got to try to find the right balance between those two positions,” he said.
But the non-profit Owners Corporation Network, which represents apartment owners, accused the government of capitulating to technology companies and stripping councils of planning powers. “The 180-day cap is excessively generous by world standards,” spokesperson Jane Hearn said.
While the 180-day cap will apply to empty properties in greater Sydney and six other areas in regional NSW, people who live in a house or apartment across the state will be able to rent out a part of their homes such as a spare room for 365 days a year.
Apart from the limits on the number of days unoccupied properties can be rented, the government’s final policy includes a code of conduct for hosts, guests, online booking platforms and agents, as well as minimum fire standards.
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An earlier version of this story said the state government would not consider any further delays in implementing the new planning rules for Airbnb-style letting. However, the government said late on Tuesday that it had since decided to extend them to November 1.
Matt O’Sullivan is City Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.