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NSW’s new code of conduct for short-term property rentals: Everything you need to know

As the Australian short-term rental market navigates the high season and prepares for a new year as well as the much-anticipated comeback of travel, it is critical for property management companies to ensure they comply with the new mandatory Code of Conduct for the Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry (“the Code”).  The Code is administered by NSW Fair Trading within the Department of Customer Service.   

The Code will go into effect on 18 December 2020 and impose new obligations on all industry participants; hosts, guests, booking platforms and letting agents as well as anyone else who manages short term accommodation (the facilitators) 

Obligations of the hosts (or an authorised representative) to guests and neighbours

The Code obliges all short-term property hosts to:

  • Accurately represent property conditions in advertisements, listings or any communication with guests
  • Notify the direct neighbours or the owners cooperation that the host is using the premises for short-term rental accommodation
  • Give contact details of the host or an authorised representative and be contactable during ordinary hours as well as outside ordinary hours to deal with emergencies
  • Take reasonable steps to address complaints made by guests, neighbours or neighbourhood officials in relation to possible breaches of the Code
  • Hold valid liability insurance that covers their liability for third party injuries or death on the host’s short-term rental accommodation premises 
  • Provide guests with an electronic or hard copy of the Code and any by-laws that apply to the premises  

Obligations for guests and booking platforms 

Obligations for guests mainly include refraining from causing damage to the property or its surroundings as well as keeping noise levels respectable so as not to disturb neighbours. As mentioned, it is the host’s responsibility to ensure guests understand these expectations and to take reasonable measures to ensure they are met. 

Booking platforms and agencies are required to inform the hosts and guests about the Code and, from mid 2021, may only advertise properties that are on the short-term rental accommodation premises register. 

Breaches of the Code

A breach of the rules and obligations of the Code which leads to a complaint may result in warnings, fines, or strikes against the offending party. Two strikes within two years will land the offending party or property on the exclusion register, and they will be excluded from participating in any short-term rental arrangement for five years. 

Property managers and guests will be given the opportunity to appeal penalties.

How to get ready for the Code?

With just a couple weeks until the Code comes into effect, property managers must ensure they have everything in place to achieve full compliance. Review the full Code and place a copy of your guests’ obligations in each of your rental properties so that they are fully aware of what is expected of them throughout their stay. 

As 2021 progresses, be sure to regularly check the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website for information about the register so that you can submit your properties as soon as it opens. 

If you have any questions, your friends at Guesty Australia are happy to help. Feel free to shoot me a note at [email protected].

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