Emergence of the “Sharing Economy” – Inquiry into Airbnb

BACKGROUND

In recent years, the growth of  key web and app-based sharing platforms such as Airbnb and Uber have emerged as the two key examples of a new “sharing economy” in which people can rent out houses, rooms, beds, cars, parking spaces and other assets directly from each other, co-ordinated by the internet. While the emergence of the sharing economy has benefited consumers and provided individuals with easy new ways to make money, these new unregulated services introduce new challenges.

The State Government recently introduced provisions to accommodate for Uber (car sharing platform) but are yet to introduce provisions for Airbnb which still is technically not permissible (refer to Dobrohotoff v Bennic [2013] NSWLEC 61). An inquiry into the Adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in New South Wales commenced in late 2015, examining the impacts of online platforms (i.e. Airbnb/ Stayz) on the holiday accommodation market and whether aspects like customer safety, neighbourhood amenity and land use approval need to be addressed through better regulation. Mosman Council provided a submission (click here) to this inquiry in late 2015.

CURRENT STATUS

Submissions for this inquiry closed on the 9th of November 2015. On the 17th of February 2016 the inquiry made the 210 submissions publicly available and it was announced that there will be two public hearings in March 2016. One of the hearings will occur on Monday 14th of March 2016 in NSW Parliament.

NEXT STEPS

Following the public hearings, the Environment and Planning Committee will report the findings of the inquiry to the State Government. This is likely to occur in mid 2016. The State Government will have six months to respond to this report.  While some Councils have amended their LEPs to make the use of dwellings such as Airbnb permissible in their LGAs, most Councils are awaiting the outcome of this Inquiry with the hope that a holistic solution will be achieved.

MORE INFO

Interactive Map Showing Airbnb use in Sydney Metropolitan Area – provides a unique insight into the current status of Airbnb use in Sydney (and globally)

Inquiry Home Page – Status page of the current inquiry

NSW Parliamentary Research Service – Discussion Paper – October 2015

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