Airbnb declared illegal in NSW…for now

Under new regulations Airbnb and other short-stay accommodation options have been declared illegal with the New South Wales Government reminding residents to stay home. The new COVID-19 regulations make clear that no one should be staying anywhere other than their own permanent home. If they break restrictions they could be fined or imprisoned if they were found to be doing so without a “reasonable excuse”.

“There’s zero reason for someone to stay in an Airbnb,” said a spokesperson for the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson. “It’s illegal to have any guests whatsoever”.

“It isn’t illegal for them to advertise the property but guests couldn’t get there without breaking the law.”

Short-term letting hosts have countered a sudden loss of business and a 90% cancellation rate by previously advertising properties as “self-isolation packages” and, more recently, as “working from home bases”.

Mr Anderson noted: “The government advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been very clear – stay in your local area, stay in your home. This is NOT the time to travel or visit family and friends. Anyone in NSW who leaves their house without a ‘reasonable excuse’ could spend up to six months in prison and face a fine of up to $11,000 under the emergency ministerial directive.”

This is a difficult announcement for many property owners and will result in a rush of new rentals becoming available in the permanent rental market no doubt. This in turn may lead to a drop in rental rates in some markets where Airbnb represent a significant part of the market.

Written: 8 April 2020

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