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New South Wales Department of Fair Trading CODE OF CONDUCT for short term rental accommodation

If you are, or planning to offer short term rental accommodation in NSW, as of December 2020, you are required to adhere to the Department of Fair Trading’s Code of Conduct.

It’s important for you to understand your local laws if you want to be a short term rental host. Destination Kiama provides a platform and marketplace via our booking platform BookEasy, but we are unable to provide legal advice. Even so, we wish to advise and share some information to help you understand the main laws and other rules that relate to short-term rental accommodations in New South Wales (NSW). The information in this article isn’t exhaustive, but it should help you start your research on local laws.

Regulations and requirements

Based on the NSW Code of Conduct for the Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry, there are a number of obligations which hosts, guests, property managers, booking platforms, and letting agents are required to meet.

Host responsibilities

Effective 18 December 2020, the Code of Conduct mandates that hosts in NSW are required to:

  • Act honestly and in good faith in relation to bookings, and any complaints or disputes that might arise.
  • Ensure your accommodation is accurately represented in the listing description.
  • Hold insurance that covers liability for third party injuries and death.
  • Be contactable to manage guests, the premises, and neighbourhood complaints within ordinary hours (8:00am-5:00pm every day of the week) and outside ordinary hours to deal with emergencies.
  • Provide guests with:
    • The contact details of:
      • Yourself, co-host, or property management company carrying out hosting responsibilities on your behalf
      • An emergency electrician and plumber
      • Australian emergency services on 000
    • A copy of the Code of Conduct
  • Educate your guests and take reasonable steps to ensure they comply with their obligations under the Code of Conduct. Generally, these guest obligations mean that guests should treat the listing and community respectfully and not disturb neighbours during their stay.
  • Let your neighbours know that you are hosting and provide them with your contact details, or those of your co-host. Additionally, if you live in a strata or community scheme, you must notify the owner’s corporation or the community association. If you are contacted by a neighbour about a possible contravention of the Code of Conduct, you must take reasonable steps to address those concerns.

Best practice would be to add important contact numbers and the Code of Conduct to the itinerary or confirmation which is sent to the guest after they have made a reservation, and / or provide this information within your listing description and terms. Please review the Code of Conduct on the NSW Government’s website for additional information.

Complaints and penalties

A host or guest is able to make a complaint regarding a breach of the Code of Conduct. Hosts and guests are to seek to resolve the issue directly, before contacting NSW Fair Trading. For more information about filing a complaint, visit the NSW Government website.

Any breach in the Code of Conduct will result in penalties for hosts and guests. We encourage you to review your obligations carefully. Penalties can include being banned from hosting or booking a short-term rental accommodation for up to five years.

Additional information

The Code of Conduct includes measures which hosts will be required to comply effective 1 June 2021, including the requirement to register your property and comply with the exclusion register. Further details of how the property register and exclusion register will operate are currently being finalised by the NSW Government.

The NSW Government has also announced changes to planning regulations, which are currently being finalised. Once the property register, exclusion register, and the planning regulation details have been finalised, Destination Kiama will contact all hosts in NSW with this information, and update this page.

Code of Conduct FAQ

How does the Code of Conduct apply to a co-host or property management company managing my listing?

The obligations for hosts under the Code of Conduct will apply equally to you as a “host” defined under the Code of Conduct, and your co-host or property management company, as a “facilitator” defined under the Code of Conduct. Your use of a facilitator—such as a co-host or a property management company—does not alter your obligations as a host under the Code of Conduct.

What steps can I take to educate my guests about their obligations under the Code of Conduct?

The Code of Conduct sets obligations for guests, including:

  • Not making noise that would unreasonably disrupt or interfere with the peace and comfort of neighbours
  • Respecting the accommodation and community, by not intentionally, recklessly or negligently damaging personal or common property
  • Abiding by your house rules, including any by-laws which apply to your listing in a strata or community scheme
  • Guests are responsible for the actions and behaviour of any visitors they invite to the listing during their stay

Many of these obligations are common sense. Some practical steps you can take to educate your guests about their obligations include:

  • Review the Code of Conduct to make sure you understand what is expected of guests, as well as yourself as a host.
  • To help set expectations, you can update your booking conditions that guests have to agree to before booking. Please note, if a guest breaks one of these conditions once they’ve booked, you can cancel the reservation.
  • During your stay in my listing I require that you are aware of and agree to abide by the NSW Government’s Code of Conduct for the Short-term Rental Accommodation Industry. In abiding with the Code of Conduct, you also agree to:
    • Treat my neighbours with respect by keeping noise to a minimum and within acceptable levels
    • Not host parties or events that would disrupt the peace and comfort of my home or neighbours, and
    • Follow booking conditions

What steps do I take to let my neighbours or strata know that I am hosting?

The Code of Conduct requires that you let your neighbours know that you are hosting and provide them with your contact details, or those of your co-host or property management company. If you live in a strata or community scheme, you must notify the owners corporation or the community association. Include the contact details of yourself, and your co-host, or property management company.

If you do not host in a strata or community scheme, we advise you to contact your immediate neighbours to advise them that you are hosting in your property and include the contact details of yourself, and your co-host, or property management company. In both scenarios, we encourage you to keep a record of the steps you have taken.

How does the exclusion register work if I host multiple properties?

The Code of Conduct states that a guest, a host, or a host in relation to a listing, may be placed on the exclusion register if they have two strikes recorded for any infringement of the Code of Conduct. If you manage multiple properties, and you have two strikes recorded for a single property, you will be prohibited from continuing to take bookings for that listing but may continue to host other properties. If you have a strike recorded for infringement of the Code of Conduct for any reason, we recommend that you review your hosting activity and take all possible measures to ensure the Code of Conduct is upheld by you, any authorised co-host, or property management company you designate.

If a guest, a host, or a host in relation to a listing is placed on the exclusion register, booking platforms will be obligated to prevent any bookings being made by that person or for that listing.

How does the complaints process work?

Complaints are managed by the NSW Government and can be lodged with NSW Fair Trading for an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct. Complaints must be dealt with fairly, consider all the available evidence, and offer the opportunity for all parties to have their voice heard. Before a complaint is lodged with NSW Fair Trading, it must first be raised with the relevant industry participant and an attempt made to resolve the complaint. There are protections against complaints which are frivolous, vexatious, trivial, misconceived or without substance.

Do I have to register my property with the NSW Government?

Effective 1 June 2021, you will be required to register your property on the short-term rental accommodation premises register. Destination Kiama will communicate with partners once more information is available so you can understand what’s involved and carry out the steps.