Tourism is a significant part of the Tasmanian economy, contributing $3.4 billion in 2014-15.
An increasing number of visitors are using short stay accommodation, advertised through online platforms like Stayz and Airbnb.
In 2016 more than 140,000 visitors to Tasmania used Airbnb alone.
While these platforms are sometimes referred to as “disruptive” they play a role in addressing the accommodation bed shortages, particularly at times of peak demand.
The sharing economy is not going away and governments need to adapt to the change.
Labor’s policy position is driven by three core objectives:
- providing consumer choice;
- giving certainty to traditional tourism operators and short stay providers; and
- minimising red tape.
No restrictions on short stay accommodation for a primary place of residence
Labor believes that there is little material difference between offering a primary place of residence for short stay accommodation and more traditional activities like letting rooms, hosting lodgers, or engaging house sitters.
As such, there should be no restrictions on people using their primary place of residence for short stay accommodation.
A Labor Government will make the necessary changes to the planning scheme to clarify that short stay accommodation in primary places of residence does not constitute a change of use.
Minimum standards for investment and secondary properties
Where a property is registered as a business or investment minimum standards should apply.
Labor would require owners of these properties to register with their local council under a streamlined process.
The intention of this process is not to introduce high costs for compliance or barriers to competition, but to ensure the minimum standards defined under the Residential Tenancy Act are met, along with requirements for fire protections and appropriate levels of insurance.
Labor believes that placing restrictions on the number of days properties could be let in the short term accommodation market would be both expensive and practically impossible.
Concerns have been raised that an increase in short stay accommodation could lead to shortages of rental accommodation and increases in rent. While there is currently no evidence to suggest that is the case in Tasmania, Labor wants to ensure there is a level playing field between the rental market and short term accommodation.
The Grattan Institute’s report found that that short term use of housing is a small fraction of the city wide housing stock. They found that a demand increase of that size in unlikely to cause significant rent rises across the city. It is likely that any impact would be localised at the middle to high end of the rental market.
Addressing complaints and anti-social behaviour
Labor believes that short term accommodation should not impinge on the peace and enjoyment of the residents in neighbouring properties.
Anti-social behaviour should not be tolerated and complaints must be taken seriously.
Labor will introduce a Short Term Accommodation Code of Conduct to promote good relationships between all stakeholders including property owners, managers, guests, neighbours, local communities, local councils and government.
Labor will also introduce legislation to crack down on anti-social and nuisance behaviour.
The Residential Tenancy Commissioner will be empowered to handle complaints about unruly, abusive or destructive behaviour that impacts on neighbours and communities. The Commissioner would have the power to revoke approval for short term accommodation in response to complaints.