Short term holiday letting has been around for years, but over the last few years the industry has gone to a new level. And sea-side suburbs like Manly are riding the crest of the wave.
House-sharing websites, like Airbnb, benefit travellers by providing a huge number of new, affordable places to stay, and they help home-owners make the most of their biggest asset. The local economy, especially in rural areas, gets a boost as well, as travellers end up in local cafes, shops and restaurants.
But there’s a downside. Residents of apartment buildings worry that their building will turn into a hotel. They cite concerns about security, disrespect for common property, noise and late-night parties and loss of the “community” where they used to live. The traditional accomodation industry - hotels, hostels etc - who make bricks and mortar investments and also provide local employment - are under threat as well.
Manly residents have already fought, and won, one battle over this. Noisy “party units” were so disruptive that in 2004 Manly Council took action and required short-term renters to obtain council consent in order to operate.
This time around its the sharing economy which has emerged so quickly that legislation is struggling to keep up. A NSW parliamentary inquiry into the short term rental industry was held last year and its recommendations are now under review.
The most contentious issue is over what say apartment owners should have over how their apartment block is used. The concern is not about residents renting out a spare room, or even renting their whole unit for a few weeks at a time. But owners corporations are horrified at the thought that an apartment may turn into party central every week of the year, and there will be nothing they can do about it.
That fear was addressed in a recent government statement on the issue. It took on the most frightening recommendation of the parliamentary inquiry; that holiday lets should be “complying developments”, meaning there would be no legal basis for apartment blocks to pass by-laws to block or restrict them.
But the relevant government ministers - Anthony Roberts for Planning and Matt Kean for Innovation & Better Regulation - didn't agree and said they needed more time to consult with all the stakeholders.
The ministers, who will release a position paper this month, say that work needs to be done to find “a balance between providing options for accomodation and allowing residents to go about their daily lives”. Stakeholders, including the traditional tourism industry, the house-sharing economy and residential communities will be consulted.
“We don’t want a holiday accomodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here, but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too,” Mr Keen said.
Good For Manly president Candy Bingham said she welcomed the consultative approach.
"I've been contacted by people who are in despair over problem units in the building they live in," she said. "They say that existing by laws covering noise and problem behaviour are not enough to deal with people who are just coming to have a good time, and behave as if they've booked into a unsupervised hostel".
“I believe apartment owners deserve the right to decide if short-term rentals are permitted within their strata communities and if so on what basis it is permitted.” she said.
What do you think?
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.