Wagga's Airbnb hosts have argued that the city should not face limits on how many nights they can rent out to guests after the NSW government delayed its new regulations for online short-term accommodation.
The government had intended to bring in a system to manage the new industry involving property owners listing their houses, rooms or units for guests on a variety of websites and smartphone apps such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Stayz.
However, Planning Minister Rob Stokes this week pushed back the start of the new rules from July to November, following criticism of councils and some short-term accommodation websites.
Under the new rules, some regional councils would have been able to limit owners renting out their properties on sites like Airbnb to 180 days per year.
All other councils outside Sydney, including Wagga City Council, would have to allow people to rent out properties for short-stay guests on every day of the year.
A Wagga council spokesperson said the council did not have a specific policy on Airbnb-style renting but visitor accommodation was "currently permitted with consent in certain areas".
The spokesperson said the council could monitor the delay in new short-term renting rules and "seek inclusion in the cap if required".
Short-stay provider Peter Bell, who rents out a townhouse in central Wagga via multiple websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com, said capping accommodation days would harm his business despite it not affecting the neighbours.
"I have never had a complaint from any of our neighbours, not about noisy guests or anything and there are 16 others in the complex and we're the only one that does Airbnb rental," he said.
"I think it would do a lot of harm to the industry to do that sort of caps. Some people in other areas might do it through an agent and they're not sure who they are renting to, but because I'm only five minutes away it's pretty simple for me to go and sort out any trouble."
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Airbnb superhost Glen Oakman, who rents out multiple properties around Wagga, said the city would not have enough accommodation if the short-stay providers were capped.
"I can see the argument for caps in the capital cities but I can't see any argument for it in regional areas because we already don't have enough accommodation; we have to create more accommodation," he said.
"On Tuesday night in Wagga you could not get a hotel room. I had probably 15 phone calls from people looking for a single room and one person said 'it looks like I'm going to be sleeping in my sleeping bag because there's nowhere to stay in Wagga'."
The non-profit Owners Corporation Network, which represents apartment owners, has argued that unlimited short-term rentals can harm long-term residential rental affordability and impact on neighbours in regional cities such as Wagga.
"There are housing shortages, not just in the city but in regional locations and local councils have not been given the opportunity to set their own [short-term rental] cap, as was originally promised, or to get the 180-day cap through the statewide policy," spokesperson Jane Hearn said.
"For apartment buildings, the whole phenomena of Airbnb has been really disruptive, it is unlawful right now but is widespread and has resulted in the loss of thousands of apartments from the [long-term] rental market.
"Even with a 180-day cap, this policy will still allow these buildings to be turned into quasi-hotels."
Wagga councillor Dan Hayes said there were merits to the arguments for and against sites like Airbnb.
"People have spare rooms that they are willing to rent to bring in extra money and you have people in strata situations where the impact can be pretty poor on the neighbours," he said.
"I don't think a blanket rule is the way to go. Giving regulators such as council the mechanisms to make adjustments to suit the needs of the community is probably the better but more challenging policy to develop."
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