Controversy over peer-to-peer accommodation regulations

Last week, the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) was approached by Brett Brennen, the Hospitality New Zealand Taranaki accommodation sector chairman, and vice president, Deborah Tawa, who proposed regulations for peer-to-peer accommodation. In short, the regulations would look to impose rates upon peer-to-peer accommodation similar to those seen in hotels and motels. Airbnb has claimed that these would be unfair and damage the sector as a whole. The regulations are not aimed at those who occasionally rent out their houses; it is more about those that leave for long periods of time.

Brent Thomas, head of public policy for Airbnb Australia and New Zealand, said, “A one-size-fits-all approach to regulation is unfair and heavy-handed. Just as we don’t regulate cars and trucks the same way, we shouldn’t regulate homes and hotels in the same way. It would be grossly unfair to make someone sharing a two-bedroom home follow the same rules as a twenty-bedroom international hotel.”

“Put simply; extreme red tape means less choice, fewer jobs and higher prices. In the interests of growing tourism and creating jobs, we would encourage New Plymouth District Council to consider truly fair, balanced and innovative regulation.”

In response, Katrina Brunton, NPDC customer and regulatory solutions manager, said, “Issues around peer-to-peer accommodation are occurring nationwide and ideally needs a sector-wide or central government-led response to ensure effective and fair regulation. It’s important that we are fair and reasonable, but there is a clear issue of equity that will need addressing.” The NPDC said that they are happy to work with the Airbnb sector as they approach the issue of peer-to-peer regulation.

In addition to New Plymouth, Wellington, Queenstown and Christchurch have also thought about commercial regulations for the peer-to-peer sector.