Many Sydney homeowners are taking advantage of short term letting websites such as Airbnb and making some extra money from renting out their apartment in central areas. But what impact can this have in a strata scheme where there are common area rules? Are you allowed to rent out your NSW strata apartment in the short term?
First, what’s the problem?
The issue has been in contention with some different perspectives from owners, neighbours and property managers. After all, who’s responsible if a short-term guest causes a nuisance or leaves a mess in a common area?
In the perspective of the owner, aren’t they entitled to use their lot as they choose to? As it turns out, yes. The NSW strata legislation has a small handful of stipulations about what individual strata rules cannot control. By-laws cannot restrict or prohibit children, support animals or the operation of an owner’s lot. That means that your unit is yours to do with as you please, as long as you adhere to the valid by-laws.
Council zoning restrictions
Fair Trading recently updated their Strata Living handbook to state that owners corporations cannot restrict an owner from letting their lot, even as a short-term letting. It also explains that the only way to restrict this is by council planning regulations. There have been a number of attempts by NSW owners corporations to restrict short term letting in strata properties using by-laws that say owners need to abide by local council zoning restrictions. However, Fair Trading has reinforced the fact that only local councils can enforce these restrictions.
Keeping by the rules
Of course, any guests staying in a strata apartment property should be adhering to the valid by-laws of that strata scheme. Depending on the specific set of rules, these may include keeping noise down and minimising disruption to neighbours. It’s a very good idea to explain these rules to guests in writing, as the owners corporation can send a Notice to Comply with a By-law and escalate the issue to the Tribunal if a rule is consistently broken.
Model by-laws for providing notice and amending insurance
There is now a model by-law for NSW strata schemes that, if in place, would require owners and occupants to notify the owners corporation at least 21 days in advance that they plan to change the use of their lot. This provides some time for the owners corporation to prepare security and other considerations appropriately.
The other issue is that of insurance. The owners corporation may be able to apply to the Tribunal to change the amount a lot owner has to contribute if their activities are affecting the strata scheme’s insurance premiums.
So, before you post your apartment on a short-term stay website, it’s worth checking your strata scheme’s by-laws and making every effort you can to minimise disruption to others in your strata scheme.