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  • Short-term letting is booming across NSW thanks to the likes of Airbnb, but not everyone is happy. A recent parliamentary inquiry has broadly condoned the practice but recommends better regulation when it comes to strata schemes in particular.
  • In the meantime, the state of play is still not entirely settled in NSW. The power to regulate land use is contained in the relevant planning instrument and a by-law purporting to contradict a planning instrument is invalid.
  • Short-term letting can be construed as a ‘bare licence’, falling outside the prohibitive effect of s 49(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996.

The evolution of digital sharing has transformed the global economy and its proliferation has grown with enormous speed. With the ultimate demise of timeshare, short-term letting is the new fashion.

However, short-term letting is problematic in residential strata schemes, as online platforms can be used by letting operators to advertise short-term accommodation available for booking by the public at large. Short-term lets can cause interference with full-time residents’ enjoyment of their lot due to noise, security concerns, excess wear and tear on common property, and excess use of common property infrastructure, such as lifts and plumbing. Fire safety is a particular concern. Strata buildings whose lots are often frequented by holidaying guests pose risks as the fire safety requirements of a residential building are not the same as those imposed on hotels and the like. There are also other risks of short-term letting when listings are run by unscrupulous operators and guests who use the premises for unlawful or unsafe purposes.

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