Hot topics for the travel
industry and consumers
Whatever you do, don't
annoy the voters!
New laws for Airbnb rentals to start in
2019 in NSW
The Castle is a great movie because it captures the
emotional attachment Australians have to their home and to
living a friendly and peaceful neighbourhood.
Town planning laws support this by strictly separating
residential from business and commercial areas, with
exceptions for home offices and occupations.
However, Airbnb style short-term rentals have disturbed
the neighbours, especially in strata buildings, because the
guests come and go frequently, some are noisy, some hold
parties and some cause damage. They have disturbed the Local
Councils because Airbnb rentals introduce a commercial
activity into residential areas.
For the past three years, the NSW Government has been
searching for a compromise between encouraging tourism and
allowing people to make extra money on the one hand, and
complaints by voters of increased levels of noise and
disturbance in residential neighbourhoods on the other.
Now the NSW Government has introduced new laws to
regulate short-term rentals.
- Homestays are legal all year round if the
owner-occupier is renting a spare room, a flat or a
studio as a short-term rental in their home. No Council
approval is needed.
- Whole house or apartment short-term rentals are
legal up to 180 days per year, where the owner-investor
is not present. This limit applies to Greater Sydney.
Elsewhere in NSW, there is no upper limit on the number
of days. No Council approval is needed.
- If the apartment is in a strata building, the Owners
Corporation can totally ban owner/investors from using
their apartment for short-term rentals, but not
owner/occupiers from using the apartment for short-term
rentals when they are away, such as on holidays (for up
to 180 days per year). A special by-law is needed,
passed by a 75% majority, to ban short-term rentals
- All hosts will need to register their property.
Airbnb hosts, guests, holiday letting agents, etc will
need to comply with a code of conduct to keep the
neighbourhood peaceful, and observe rules for parking
and garbage disposal.
Of course, there are many fine details. To find out more
Be ready for the new Airbnb /
short-term letting laws which will start in 2019 in NSW
Meriton in trouble for filtering out negative guest reviews
The long arm of the law has caught Meriton Suites and has
fined it $3 million for filtering out negative guest
reviews, leaving the favourable reviews of its serviced
While Meriton is known as a high rise apartment builder,
it has 13 high rise serviced apartment buildings in Sydney,
Sydney Surrounds, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The hotel
business is proving to be very successful, with 4 more high
rise buildings of what it calls Meriton Suites under
By encouraging guests to post reviews on TripAdviser, the
world's largest travel website, a hotel can increase its
ranking, gain more prominence, and increase bookings. To
encourage guest reviews, TripAdvisor provides a service
where if a hotel supplies it with the email addresses of its
guests and an email template, then it will email the guests
and prompt them to write reviews. It is called Review
Meriton Suites knows that to prosper in the highly
competitive accommodation industry, it needs to encourage
favourable reviews. So it adopted a company policy that the
check out clerk would ask "Have you enjoyed your stay?" If
the response was negative, they would add 'MSA" to the
guest's email address before sending it to TripAdvisor, to
ensure it would 'bounce'. And if there was a major service
disruption, such as lifts not working, they would not send
the email address to TripAdvisor at all.
The Federal Court has held that this is deceptive
conduct, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. Meriton
was ordered to pay a $3 million fine, to not engage in
manipulating guest reviews for 3 years and to adopt a strict
The lesson for Meriton is to say ‘sorry’ and do its best
to deal with the complaint.
For more information, click on my case note
Meriton Suites fined $3m for
manipulating TripAdvisor Reviews
New NSW policy
welcomes short stay rentals (Airbnb style)
On 5 June 2018, the New South Wales Government announced
a new policy for hosts for short-term Airbnb style holiday
letting. The new policy will affect both owner-occupiers and
The key is a new cap of 180 days in any one year on
short-term lettings for an investment property, meaning a
property that is not owner-occupied. The cap does not apply
to owner-occupiers who rent a spare room or rooms.
Owner-occupiers - who rent 'rooms' in houses and home
units anywhere in NSW - There is no cap on the number of
days in a year that rooms can be let for short-term
lettings. This applies to owners who let part of the house
for short-term lettings, and live in another part. If
breakfast is served, a B & B Licence might be needed from
the Local Council.
Investors - who rent 'whole' houses and home units
outside of Sydney - There is no cap on the number of
days in a year that the whole house or home unit can be let
for short-term lettings.
Investors - who rent 'whole' houses and home units in
Greater Sydney - there is a cap of 180 days in any one
year for short-term lettings. The boundary line for the
Greater Sydney Region is yet to be drawn.
Investors - who rent home units in Sydney - If the
Owners Corporation passes a 75% majority resolution (a
special resolution) then it can ban short-term lettings by
investors of 'entire' home units in the building. This
cannot affect owner-occupiers who let rooms. It is not clear
whether existing bans will be allowed to continue, or
whether a new resolution will be needed.
For all short-term lettings, there will be a new
mandatory Code of Conduct that hosts and guest must follow,
accompanied by a two-strike policy, whereby hosts or guests
who commit two serious breaches of the code within two years
will be banned for five years and listed on an exclusion
For more details on the new rules, click
Is the new NSW
Government policy a win-win for short-term (Airbnb style)
Dreamworld tragedy highlights legal
Duty of Care for theme park guests
Theme park visitors should not need to worry about being
injured, let alone killed, on the rides. They expect to be
in a safe environment - because of the legal duty of care
the theme park operator owes to its guests.
The Thunder River Rapids Ride at Dreamworld was not safe
on 25 October 2016. When the raft reached the top of the
conveyor belt it collided with a stationary raft stuck at
the top. The raft flipped, two adults were killed - crushed
by the raft, two adults were killed - drowned when they fell
through the slats in the conveyor belt, and two children
were thrown clear.
Dreamworld breached its legal duty of care to maintain a
safe ride, and will now face the consequences.
To read more
Sleaze has no place in the workplace
88% of sexual harassment complaints made to the Australian
Human Rights Commission are workplace related. Unwanted and
uninvited 'sharing' of sexual explicit photos and sexy texts
and making comments of a sexual nature, are two forms of
sexual harassment. In a recent decision by the Fair Work
Commission, a Cabin Crew Supervisor on an unnamed airline
was accused of sexual harassment which was primarily
directed to female flight attendants.
Why good lighting on the stairs
reduces liability risk for leisure venues
Good lighting on stairways is a top priority when
operating a club, bar or restaurant to reduce liability
The Publican, the Patron, the
Drinks and the Punch
Given that this incident happens on licensed premises, the
publican has a duty of care to prevent injury to patrons,
which they must fulfil or otherwise be responsible for
Are you a target for consumer claims?
Strategies for Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Airlines,
Railway Operators and Accommodation Providers
We also offer a full service property practice; for
go to http://www.businesslawyer.com.au
The articles in this website provide a summary of the law.
They do not cover the whole of the relevant law on their
Moreover, because legal language is avoided wherever
possible, there may be some generalisations about the
application of the law. Some provisions of the law referred
to have exceptions or important qualifications. In most
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account when determining how the law applies to you.
For these reasons, the articles are not a substitute for
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The material in this newsletter is © Copyright. Anthony J.
Cordato. Sydney 2007. A licence to use the material will be
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The pen and ink illustrations are by Yolande Bull, and are
published with the kind permission of Lexis Nexis.
Anthony J. Cordato