It’s important for you to understand your local laws if you want to be an Airbnb Host. We provide a platform and marketplace, but we don’t provide legal advice. Even so, we want to share some information to help you understand the main laws and other rules that relate to short-term rental accommodations (STRA) in New South Wales (NSW). The information in this article isn’t exhaustive, but it should help you start your research on local laws.
Regulations and requirements
STRA in NSW is regulated through:
- A statewide planning framework which includes a STRA register
- A mandatory Code of Conduct that applies to all participants, such as Hosts, guests, letting agents, property managers, and booking platforms
- Strata by-laws that restrict certain types of short-term rentals.
Please note that the NSW STRA policy framework will also apply to accommodations in Byron Shire LGA starting January 31, 2022. Hosts in Byron Shire LGA will be able to register their STRA dwellings on the NSW STRA register beginning December 5, 2021.
STRA planning framework and register
The NSW Government introduced a statewide planning policy for STRA to complement a mandatory Code of Conduct and changes to strata legislation that took effect in December 2020 and April 2020 respectively. The new STRA planning rules apply from November 1, 2021 and includes the following changes that impact hosting:
- Registration: Hosts are required to register their STRA dwellings on the NSW Government’s STRA register and comply with a new STRA Fire Safety Standard.
- Fee: Hosts are required to pay a registration fee of $65 for the first 12 months and an annual renewal fee of $25.
- Day Limit: Hosted and unhosted STRA listings can operate all year round across NSW, except in Greater Sydney and nominated regional NSW local government areas where unhosted STRA listings are limited to 180 days per year. Bookings above 21 consecutive days are exempted from the day limit.
- Fire Safety Standards: Upon registration, Hosts are required to confirm compliance with fire safety standards. (The requirement for STRAs to comply with the fire safety standards has been delayed to 1 March 2022. Find out more.)
The NSW Government provides additional information about STRA rules, including the nominated regional NSW local government areas, the types of dwellings permissible for STRA, and existing use rights. Certain types of accommodation—for example, boutique hotels or serviced apartments—are not considered STRA and are therefore exempt from registration. The full list of such types of accommodation is set out on the NSW Government’s website. Penalties for violations of these requirements may result in your registration number being suspended or revoked. You could also be subjected to fines. Please visit the NSW Government’s website for more information.
To register and/or renew your registration for a STRA premises, follow these steps. We've also created this step-by-step guide with educational videos to help you through the registration process:
- Visit NSW Government’s Planning Portal
- Register an account — you can log in using your Service NSW account — in the portal and log in to complete the online registration form
- Click New > STRA Registration
- From there, fill out the registration form and complete the attestations
- Pay the registration fee of $65 and submit your application
- Once you receive your registration number, go to your Airbnb Host account page
- Click on your listing Policies and rules > Laws and regulations > Regulations
- Add the number you received in the registration number field
- Click Save
Your registration will need to be renewed annually in the NSW Government’s Planning Portal. If you do not renew after your registration has lapsed, you may be subject to fines, penalties, and/or removals. If your registration has been denied, the NSW Government will communicate the outcome of your registration and will be able to provide further support. You may also visit the NSW Government’s website for more information including how to seek assistance using the Planning Portal.
Code of conduct
Based on the NSW Code of Conduct for the Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry, there are a number of obligations which Hosts, guests, property managers, booking platforms, and letting agents are required to meet.
Under the Code of Conduct, Airbnb, alongside other booking platforms, will be required to provide "relevant information" (as defined in the Code) to the NSW Government on a daily basis. If you are a Host of a STRA listing, we ask that you be aware of this as you ensure you are hosting in compliance with applicable day limits under the new STRA planning rules.
Many of the obligations which apply to Hosts complement Airbnb’s existing policies and responsible hosting guidelines, making the Code of Conduct simple and straightforward to comply with. Effective 18 December 2020, the Code of Conduct mandates that Hosts in NSW are required to:
- Act honestly and in good faith in relation to bookings, and any complaints or disputes that might arise
- Ensure your accommodation is accurately represented in the listing description.
- Hold insurance that covers liability for third party injuries and death. Please note: Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance meets the minimum standard required under the Code of Conduct, though you may wish to seek additional coverage.
- Be contactable to manage guests, the premises, and neighbourhood complaints within ordinary hours (8:00am-5:00pm every day of the week) and outside ordinary hours to deal with emergencies.
- Provide guests with:
- The contact details of:
- Yourself, Co-Host, or property management company carrying out hosting responsibilities on your behalf
- An emergency electrician and plumber
- Australian emergency services on 000
- A copy of the Code of Conduct
- The contact details of:
- Educate your guests and take reasonable steps to ensure they comply with their obligations under the Code of Conduct. Generally, these guest obligations mean that guests should treat the listing and community respectfully and not disturb neighbours during their stay.
- Let your neighbours know that you are hosting and provide them with your contact details, or those of your Co-Host. Additionally, if you live in a strata or community scheme, you must notify the owners corporation or the community association. If you are contacted by a neighbour about a possible contravention of the Code of Conduct, you must take reasonable steps to address those concerns.
Best practice would be to add important contact numbers and the Code of Conduct to your house manual which is sent to the guest after they have made a reservation, and / or provide this information on a paper copy in your listing. Please review the Code of Conduct on the NSW Government’s website for additional information.
Complaints and penalties
A Host or guest is able to make a complaint regarding a breach of the Code of Conduct. We ask Hosts and guests to seek to resolve the issue directly, before contacting NSW Fair Trading. For more information about filing a complaint, visit the NSW Government website.
Any breach in the Code of Conduct will result in penalties for Hosts and guests. We encourage you to review your obligations carefully. Penalties can include being banned from hosting or booking a STRA for up to five years.
A Host or guest may be placed on the exclusion register for non-compliance with the Code of Conduct. Hosts are required to ensure that guests listed on the Exclusion Register are not able to complete a booking. Further details of how the Exclusion Register will operate are currently being finalised by the NSW Government. Once these details have been finalised, Airbnb will update this page.
What will happen on 1 November, 2021?
On November 1, 2021, listings that do not have a registration number or an exemption will be deactivated or blocked from hosting short-term stays. Existing reservations will not be affected.
What are day limits and how do they apply to my listing?
Hosted and unhosted STRA listings can operate all year round across NSW, except in Greater Sydney and nominated regional NSW local government areas where unhosted STRA listings are limited to 180 days per year. If you plan on hosting above 180 days per year in Greater Sydney and nominated regional NSW local government areas, you should apply for development consent with your local government. Any bookings above 21 consecutive days are exempted from the day limit. Penalties apply if you do not apply for development consent and have hosted above 180 days.
Hosts are responsible for monitoring their booking calendar and adhering to the day limits set out by their respective local councils. If a listing is listed on multiple platforms, the bookings made across these platforms will be added to the listing’s total day count. You can find out more information about the number of days your listing has hosted in the NSW STRA Planning Portal. Airbnb is not currently cancelling any bookings due to day limits.
How does the Code of Conduct apply to a Co-Host or property management company managing my listing?
The obligations for Hosts under the Code of Conduct will apply equally to you as a “Host” defined under the Code of Conduct, and your Co-Host or property management company, as a “facilitator” defined under the Code of Conduct. Your use of a facilitator—such as a Co-Host or a property management company—does not alter your obligations as a Host under the Code of Conduct.
What steps can I take to educate my guests about their obligations under the Code of Conduct?
The Code of Conduct sets obligations for guests, including:
- Not making noise that would unreasonably disrupt or interfere with the peace and comfort of neighbours.
- Respecting the accommodation and community, by not intentionally, recklessly or negligently damaging personal or common property.
- Abiding by your house rules, including any by-laws which apply to your listing in a strata or community scheme.
- Guests are responsible for the actions and behavior of any visitors they invite to the listing during their stay.
Many of these obligations are common-sense, and will be familiar to you in the House rules you set for your guests. Some practical steps you can take to educate your guests about their obligations include:
- Review the Code of Conduct to make sure you understand what is expected of guests, as well as yourself as a Host.
- Review Airbnb’s policy change to ban parties at Airbnb listings globally until further notice.
- To help set expectations, you can update your house rules that guests have to agree to before booking. Please note, if a guest breaks one of these rules once they’ve booked, you can cancel the reservation.
To help you communicate to your guests about the Code of Conduct, we have made a template which you can add to your house rules:
- During your stay in my listing I require that you are aware of and agree to abide by the NSW Government’s Code of Conduct for the Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry. In abiding with the Code of Conduct, you also agree to:
- Treat my neighbours with respect by keeping noise to a minimum and within acceptable levels
- Not host parties or events that would disrupt the peace and comfort of my home or neighbours, and
- Follow my house rules.
What steps do I take to let my neighbours or strata know that I am hosting?
The Code of Conduct requires that you let your neighbours know that you are hosting and provide them with your contact details, or those of your Co-Host or property management company. If you live in a strata or community scheme, you must notify the owners corporation or the community association.
Airbnb’s existing responsible hosting guidelines recommend letting your neighbours know if you plan to host. This gives them the chance to let you know if they have any concerns. You know your neighbours, so we recommend that you approach them in a way that works best. If you host in a strata or community scheme, we advise you to contact your owners corporation or community association and your immediate neighbours to advise them that you are hosting in your property. Include the contact details of yourself, and your Co-Host, or property management company.
If you do not host in a strata or community scheme, we advise you to contact your immediate neighbours to advise them that you are hosting in your property and include the contact details of yourself, and your Co-Host, or property management company. In both scenarios, we encourage you to keep a record of the steps you have taken.
How does the exclusion register work if I host multiple properties?
We expect all Hosts and guests on Airbnb to be responsible and respectful when using our platform, and the expectation is that every member of the Airbnb community will uphold the Code of Conduct.
The Code of Conduct states that a guest, a Host, or a Host in relation to a listing, may be placed on the Exclusion Register if they have two strikes recorded for any infringement of the Code of Conduct. If you manage multiple properties, and you have two strikes recorded for a single property, you will be prohibited from continuing to take bookings for that listing but may continue to host other properties. If you have a strike recorded for infringement of the Code of Conduct for any reason, we recommend that you review your hosting activity and take all possible measures to ensure the Code of Conduct is upheld by you, any authorised Co-Host, or property management company you designate.
If a guest, a Host, or a Host in relation to a listing is placed on the Exclusion Register, booking platforms—including Airbnb—will be obligated to prevent any bookings being made by that person or for that listing to be advertised.
How does the complaints process work?
Complaints are managed by the NSW Government and can be lodged with NSW Fair Trading for an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct. Complaints must be dealt with fairly, consider all the available evidence, and offer the opportunity for all parties to have their voice heard. Before a complaint is lodged with NSW Fair Trading, it must first be raised with the relevant industry participant and an attempt made to resolve the complaint. There are protections against complaints which are frivolous, vexatious, trivial, misconceived or without substance.