Party is over for holiday rental houses

A reprieve is in sight for neighbours of anti-social holiday houses who have come to dread weekends and longer breaks.

Without any fanfare, a Code of Conduct developed by the NSW Office of Fair Trading to govern the operation of short term holiday rentals has been passed by State Parliament.

It is hoped the long awaited Code, which comes into effect on 10 April, will provide a framework for ending anti-social behaviour in so-called party houses.

Until now, there has been very little that councils could do to address neighbour’s concerns, as they have no ability to deal with the major complaints, usually noise and bad behaviour.

While the new rules are not yet available online, they are expected to follow the draft Code of Conduct announced last year.

Under that regime anyone can lodge a complaint, against specific guests, hosts or a premises, with the Commissioner for Fair Trading.

If the Commissioner determines that the complaint is valid, they may issue a written warning notice; issue a direction to stop acting in a manner relevant to the complaint; record a strike; or record a host or guest on the Exclusion Register.

If two strikes are recorded in a two year period the offending guest, host or premises will be recorded on the Exclusion Register.

If a guest, host or premises is recorded on the Exclusion Register, both online booking platforms (i.e. AirBNB, Stayz etc.) and traditional letting agents must not advertise the premises (or any other premises of the host), or let to the guest.

Offending guests, hosts and/or premises will remain on the Exclusion Register for a five year period.

Hosts have the responsibility to ensure they are contactable outside ordinary hours, communicate the Code of Conduct to guests, and make relevant parties, including neighbours aware they are operating short term rental accommodation.

Guests have the responsibility not to disrupt the normal life of a neighbourhood, or conduct themselves in ways that cause offence or property damage.
Full details will be posted soon at http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

In addition to these measures introduced by the State Government, the March Meeting of Kiama Council also resolved to take extra measures to help during what was thought was going to be a continued limbo period.

From now on, any complaints it receives from residents will be forwarded to the property owners, outlining they may need development consent if they continue to breech the LEP.

The motion also called for an education campaign for property owners and agents on appropriate behaviour, and for the investigation of whether infringement notices could be issued.

The Code of Conduct may negate the need for these extra measures, given their strong penalties.

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