15 April 2021

When NSW Planning tried to finish its planning instrument, it was the start of a whole new set of problems. There’s an old saying in politics that if you’ve upset everyone, then you must be doing something right. Or perhaps you just screwed up spectacularly.

Late last week when the NSW government finally released the second part of its new regulations on short-term holiday letting, there was something to anger all parties.

In Queensland, where there’s no shortage of holiday investment properties, apartment residents have been battling to keep short-term lets out of blocks that were planned and built as residential-only. 

The proposals would have completed the missing part of the regulations announced last year, including the creation of a register of properties and a blacklist of miscreant hosts and guests.

Limits of 180 nights a year planned for greater Sydney were to be extended to a handful of regional areas, including Newcastle and Dubbo, and the proposals included stringent fire safety measures and compulsory third-party insurance.

All of that, you will notice, is in the past tense because late on Tuesday night, faced with fury from all directions, the government put its plans on hold till November.

The Owners Corporation Network – the peak NSW body for apartment owners – had been incensed. “It takes some chutzpah to give in to Airbnb and Expedia in the middle of the pandemic, with house prices soaring, and homelessness and housing shortages increasing,” said Owners Corporation Network spokeswoman Jane Hearn. “Meanwhile, licensed tourist accommodation is going to the wall.

“The government has capitulated to ‘big tech’,” she added. “The 180-day cap is excessively generous by world standards, but these big platforms are still complaining.”


Jimmy Thomson
Financial Review