Airbnb, the global accommodation platform, is pushing for a major planning revamp to set floors on what property owners are allowed to do, as part of a push for consistent nationwide regulation.
At the start of 2020 Airbnb began a push for a nationwide code of conduct for short-term residential accommodation, floating the idea of setting a framework to both offer consistent rules for those wanting to share their homes, while also sharing information with Inland Revenue and even impose bed taxes in regions that wanted them.
The company says the existing framework for short term accommodation was "a confusing and outdated legacy patchwork of rules that vary from local authority to local authority".
A working group was set up by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and a broad range of accommodation providers even prepared a draft code of conduct, Airbnb's head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand Derek Nolan said.
However the onset of Covid meant the work has "really just gone cold", Nolan said, with resources understandably redirected to the pandemic response.
Now the organisation is pitching for the Parliamentary inquiry into the Natural and Built Environments Bill, legislation which could eventually replace parts of the Resource Management Act, to set a framework.
"At the moment we're operating in a fragmented, not fit for purpose regulatory framework that's subject to constant change," Nolan said.
Airbnb said planning rules in Christchurch meant homeowners wanting to list their properties in Airbnb while they were away would need resource consent, while proposals for New Plymouth would only allow short-term residential accommodation in certain zones.
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Nolan said planning frameworks needed to be designed with the way people lived today, with families often moving homes for the summer or leaving their main residence for long periods due to work.
"If you're going to allow people to have some rights to share their house, there needs to be planning reform and if it is a right, it needs to be consistent across the board," Nolan said.
"We're not saying there shouldn't be any local frameworks, but what we are saying is 'let's put a framework together that has a fundamental floor'," of rights to share properties.
"If councils want to regulate above that, let's let them do that."
While a number of councils have pushed for a variety of regulatory responses to the growth of Airbnb and similar platforms, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said in November that regulating what people did with their own homes could get into "Big Brother territory".