'Living Like a Local' or Rampant Tourism? The Regulation of Short-Term Holiday Letting and the 'Sharing Economy' by Planning Laws

Local Government Law Journal 22(1) (2017)

51 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017

See all articles by Guy Dwyer

Guy Dwyer


Tristan Orgill

Land and Environment Court of NSW

Date Written: June 18, 2017


The world is experiencing the emergence and rapid growth of the "sharing economy". This poses significant challenges in different areas of law, including real property, personal property, taxation, contract and land use planning. The New South Wales Parliament recently charged a Parliamentary Committee with conducting an inquiry into the adequacy of the existing laws regulating short-term holiday letting in NSW, focusing in particular on the land use planning regime. In October 2016, this Inquiry Committee produced a report detailing its findings and outlining a number of law reform recommendations. The NSW Government provided a brief response to this report in April 2017, in which the Government declined to fully support or adopt any of the Inquiry Committee's substantive law reform recommendations. Instead, the Government offered qualified support to these recommendations and committed to releasing a further consultation/options paper in due course (noting that the further consultation/options paper has yet to be released).

Bearing this in mind, the purpose of this article is to provide a timely, critical examination of the recommendations and findings made by the Inquiry Committee. In so doing, this article identifies some of the key challenges that short-term holiday letting poses to planning law regimes and explores some of the viable regulatory and other options for addressing these challenges.

It is ultimately argued that the new model of short-term holiday letting regulation proposed in the Inquiry Committee's report is unclear, risky and unnecessarily deprives local governments of power to regulate what are principally local planning issues. Hence, the Government was justified in declining to adopt (and implement) the Inquiry Committee's relevant substantive law reform recommendations. The authors contend that the traditional, existing regulatory regime should be adapted to strike a better balance between regulatory clarity, certainty and consistency at the State level and vesting local governments with the discretion to regulate short-term holiday letting at the local level.

Keywords: Sharing economy, Collaborative economy, Holiday letting, Vacation letting, Airbnb, planning laws and regulation, neighbourhood amenity, housing affordability, local character, land use zoning, local government, government, digital economy

JEL Classification: K32, K10, K42, Z3

Suggested Citation

Dwyer, Guy and Orgill, Tristan, 'Living Like a Local' or Rampant Tourism? The Regulation of Short-Term Holiday Letting and the 'Sharing Economy' by Planning Laws (June 18, 2017). Local Government Law Journal 22(1) (2017) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988449

Guy Dwyer

Ashurst ( email )

Sydney, 2000

Tristan Orgill (Contact Author)

Land and Environment Court of NSW ( email )


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