Several Sydneysiders are being threatened with fines of over $1 million for renting their pads out on rental sites like Airbnb as councils attempt to regulate the short-term accommodation industry.
The SMH reports a number of residents have been instructed to apply for bed and breakfast licences if they wish to continue renting out rooms on a short term basis.
City of Sydney resident, Lynn Stanton, is currently applying for the licence through council and told Fairfax Media it can mean expensive regulatory and compliance costs including installing commercial kitchens.
“I just think the whole thing is crazy,” she said.
A Randwick Council resident said bureaucrats served her notice in April that it had evidence she was running an “unauthorised” B&B out of her home, giving her ten days to explain why it shouldn’t take action against her.
The council also warned her the maximum penalty for running an unauthorised B&B was $1.1 million plus an extra $110,000 a day.
“It was quite a shocking letter to get,” the Randwick resident who was renting out a room through Airbnb said.
“I immediately saw $1.1 million and thought ‘what am I going to do?’
“I feel like they’re making [the rules] up as they go along because they have no clear guidelines yet.”
In both cases it was complaints to council from neighbours which put these two hosts on the radar.
Airbnb Australian country manager said the rules in NSW were confusing, whereas the regulations in both Queensland and Victoria are much clearer.
The growth of sites like Airbnb has taken off at pace and similar to what’s happening with Uber and the taxi industry, authorities have been left scrambling to figure out how the new ways of doing existing transactions fits into their regulatory framework.
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