Sydney strata rules not fair in the Hunter, says Stayz

SHORT-TERM GAIN: Brooke Brugnoni and her husband Grant Maule have listed their purpose-built Cooks Hill Parkside property with Stayz and Airbnb since December. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
SHORT-TERM GAIN: Brooke Brugnoni and her husband Grant Maule have listed their purpose-built Cooks Hill Parkside property with Stayz and Airbnb since December. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

STAYZ, one of the Hunter’s two main home rental websites, has responded to proposed tighter rules around holiday letting by calling for all short-term rentals to be registered and for a “three strikes” rule to block bad hosts.

The company also says properties in “regional areas” should be exempt from strata regulations designed to curb guests’ behaviour in properties in Sydney.

In its response to an options paper before the NSW government, Stayz proposed new “safety, amenity and property management” standards for listing a rental property on an online platform, a new industry body, and “improved communication” with the government.

“Our recommendations strike a sensible balance between improving the short-term rental accommodation sector and ensuring it remains an important source of regional jobs, tourist activity and economic uplift,” former federal tourism minister and Stayz adviser Richard Colbeck said.

“Holiday homes have been a tradition in Australia for decades and it is simply not fair to lump extra regulation and financial burdens on holidaymakers to solve a problem that mainly exists in city and metropolitan areas.”

The options paper was released in July following a parliamentary inquiry into the industry, and raises the prospect that Hunter hosts on Stayz and its rival Airbnb could be limited in how often they let their properties, and be forced to pay strata fees.

Hosts could also be forced to reimburse neighbours for disruptive guests under the government’s proposals.

But Stayz’s Mr Colbeck said the government’s options paper failed to properly distinguish “between someone renting out a beach holiday home” and someone renting out a room in an already-leased property in a city strata apartment.

Brooke Brugnoni and her husband Grant Maule have listed their purpose-built Cooks Hill Parkside property on Stayz since December. It was one of 12 properties the website listed in Cooks Hill on Thursday night. They also list it on Airbnb.

Guests have stayed, Ms Brugnoni said, for reasons ranging from holidays to family visits to attending an ice hockey camp.

The couple haven’t had any problems with guests, she said, largely because they make their expectations known and because of the inherent accountability of the Stayz platform.

“You can screen your guests to a certain extent before they arrive. I think as a host you have to be proactive,” Ms Brugnoni said.

“As a business owner, why would you want to put up a bad service?”

The government has made the options paper available to the public for three months while it decides how to regulate the $31 billion industry.