Airbnb has begun a push for a nationwide regulation of short-stay rentals, backing a framework for bed taxes and information sharing with IRD to ensure tax compliance among hosts.
Representatives from the online accommodation market met with Local Government NZ's metropolitan mayors group in Wellington on Friday to present a set of broad proposals to consider.
A growing number of councils have begun consultations on regulating aspects of the sector. Derek Nolan, Airbnb's head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, said it could face difficulties if councils acted alone developing different rules.
"We need regulation … [but] let's not have 70 iterations of it around the place, and let's have a conversation about how we can have a national approach, with some local differences built in" rather than "a hodgepodge of different regulatory contexts across the country".
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Airbnb's proposals effectively propose a framework for a bed tax levied on all accommodation providers, which councils could opt into.
It comes amid mounting pressure in some parts of New Zealand for a new means of revenue to cope with growing tourist numbers.
Auckland Council charges a targeted rate on providers, while Queenstown Lakes District Council is pushing for a night "bed tax" of 5 per cent across all accommodation providers.
Nolan said a levy of the type proposed by Queenstown could be easily charged in proportion to how much of an impact a property was having.
Some hosts only offered a room on occasion, while others rented out entire properties full time, meaning the impact of two hosts on local amenities could be very different.
"The targeted rate is a kind of clumsy tool to deal with those [differences]," Nolan said, whereas a bed tax was "proportionate to how much they decide to participate in the sharing economy and how often they decide to host".
Such a charge would require a law change, with local government minister Nanaia Mahuta confirming the charge is not currently possible under the Rating Act.
Airbnb's proposals also include a code of conduct which would enable hosts who egregiously breach standards to be banned not only from one platform, but from any.
A "sliding scale" of regulation would impose fewer rules on hosts who only offered part of their homes for rent differently to those which offered entire properties, Nolan said.
Airbnb also proposed the creation of a data-sharing framework, so long as it protected privacy, to improve understanding of the sector as well as ensure hosts were paying the required tax on their activity.
"We're very open to making sure compliance [with tax obligations] is part of what we are doing," Nolan said.
The company was seeking meetings with Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Nolan said the company would allow the proposals to "sink in" as it appreciated it would require a change at a national level, but it appeared mayors were pragmatic.
"They realise this is new, do they want to spend all their resources of 70 different councils, hiring people to all do the same job?"
Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult said he did not agree with Airbnb's proposals entirely, but "applauded" the company's change in stance towards regulation.
"From where they were a few years ago where it was a bit of a locked horns environment between councils and Airbnb, [it's a] much better environment and I have in recent times found them to be open and interested in finding solutions."
Boult said the challenges his council faced would be different to others but the concept of a national approach was positive.
"It makes sense if it can be at a national level. I certainly wouldn't say that what applies to us applies for everyone but I think the idea is an excellent one."
While Boult welcomed the company's support for a framework for bed taxes, he indicated he would not withdraw from Queenstown Lakes' plans which would require a law change.
"We're pretty committed to our model. We've been working on it for three years, we're delighted with how far we've got and we'd be really nervous of something that just interfered with that process."