Hot topics for the travel
industry and consumers
Whatever you do, don't
annoy the voters!
New laws for Airbnb rentals to start in
2019 in NSW
The Castle is a great movie because it captures the
emotional attachment Australians have to their home and to
living a friendly and peaceful neighbourhood.
Town planning laws support this by strictly separating
residential from business and commercial areas, with
exceptions for home offices and occupations.
However, Airbnb style short-term rentals have disturbed
the neighbours, especially in strata buildings, because the
guests come and go frequently, some are noisy, some hold
parties and some cause damage. They have disturbed the Local
Councils because Airbnb rentals introduce a commercial
activity into residential areas.
For the past three years, the NSW Government has been
searching for a compromise between encouraging tourism and
allowing people to make extra money on the one hand, and
complaints by voters of increased levels of noise and
disturbance in residential neighbourhoods on the other.
Now the NSW Government has introduced new laws to
regulate short-term rentals.
- Homestays are legal all year round if the
owner-occupier is renting a spare room, a flat or a
studio as a short-term rental in their home. No Council
approval is needed.
- Whole house or apartment short-term rentals are
legal up to 180 days per year, where the owner-investor
is not present. This limit applies to Greater Sydney.
Elsewhere in NSW, there is no upper limit on the number
of days. No Council approval is needed.
- If the apartment is in a strata building, the Owners
Corporation can totally ban owner/investors from using
their apartment for short-term rentals, but not
owner/occupiers from using the apartment for short-term
rentals when they are away, such as on holidays (for up
to 180 days per year). A special by-law is needed,
passed by a 75% majority, to ban short-term rentals
- All hosts will need to register their property.
Airbnb hosts, guests, holiday letting agents, etc will
need to comply with a code of conduct to keep the
neighbourhood peaceful, and observe rules for parking
and garbage disposal.
Of course, there are many fine details. To find out more
Be ready for the new Airbnb /
short-term letting laws which will start in 2019 in NSW
Meriton in trouble for filtering out negative guest reviews
The long arm of the law has caught Meriton Suites and has
fined it $3 million for filtering out negative guest
reviews, leaving the favourable reviews of its serviced
While Meriton is known as a high rise apartment builder,
it has 13 high rise serviced apartment buildings in Sydney,
Sydney Surrounds, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The hotel
business is proving to be very successful, with 4 more high
rise buildings of what it calls Meriton Suites under
By encouraging guests to post reviews on TripAdviser, the
world's largest travel website, a hotel can increase its
ranking, gain more prominence, and increase bookings. To
encourage guest reviews, TripAdvisor provides a service
where if a hotel supplies it with the email addresses of its
guests and an email template, then it will email the guests
and prompt them to write reviews. It is called Review
Meriton Suites knows that to prosper in the highly
competitive accommodation industry, it needs to encourage
favourable reviews. So it adopted a company policy that the
check out clerk would ask "Have you enjoyed your stay?" If
the response was negative, they would add 'MSA" to the
guest's email address before sending it to TripAdvisor, to
ensure it would 'bounce'. And if there was a major service
disruption, such as lifts not working, they would not send
the email address to TripAdvisor at all.
The Federal Court has held that this is deceptive
conduct, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. Meriton
was ordered to pay a $3 million fine, to not engage in
manipulating guest reviews for 3 years and to adopt a strict
The lesson for Meriton is to say ‘sorry’ and do its best
to deal with the complaint.
For more information, click on my case note
Meriton Suites fined $3m for
manipulating TripAdvisor Reviews
New NSW policy welcomes short stay
rentals (Airbnb style)
NSW gives the green light to owner-occupiers and
investors to rent houses and home units for short stay (Airbnb
To read more
Dreamworld tragedy highlights legal
Duty of Care for theme park guests
Theme park visitors should not need to worry about being
injured, let alone killed, on the rides. They expect to be
in a safe environment - because of the legal duty of care
the theme park operator owes to its guests.
The Thunder River Rapids Ride at Dreamworld was not safe
on 25 October 2016. When the raft reached the top of the
conveyor belt it collided with a stationary raft stuck at
the top. The raft flipped, two adults were killed - crushed
by the raft, two adults were killed - drowned when they fell
through the slats in the conveyor belt, and two children
were thrown clear.
Dreamworld breached its legal duty of care to maintain a
safe ride, and will now face the consequences.
To read more
NSW Government favours tourists
over residents in its short-term holiday letting policy
In a move that will please traditional holiday
accommodation providers and online marketplace and
hospitality services such as Airbnb and Stayz, the New South
Wales Government has issued a policy paper which favours
boosting short-term holiday letting in houses and apartments
across the State.
The focus is: broadening the economic benefits of
tourism - and this is why:
Internet platforms have generated new marketplaces for
short-term holiday letting, benefiting consumers and
providers by lowering transaction and accommodation costs,
and providing opportunities to earn income from unused
The policy paper is to be followed by a consultation
paper to flesh out a legal framework for short-term holiday
letting. The issues to be addressed are town planning, the
development controls that should apply, compliance issues, a
code of conduct, and monitoring.
The NSW Government proposes to pass on responsibility to
the Local Councils. Strata owners are not to be given any
power to control short-term lettings.
For more details,
click on NSW Government is looking at
options to give Short-Term Letting a legal framework
If a travel agent books an
international flight, are they legally liable if they fail
to advise the visa requirements for the flight destination?
There are some travel professionals who still think that
they can book an international flight, and leave it to the
customer to look after the visa requirements. They do this
even though as travel professionals, they know that without
a valid visa the customer will be denied boarding on the
flight they have booked.
For more details
Is lunch included in my
all-inclusive tour price?
The words All-inclusive are a powerful marketing
tool which is used by many tour operators, accommodation
providers and cruise lines.
So what does a traveller think when they read this in a
brochure which is labelled All-Inclusive : WHAT'S
INCLUDED? Coach travel throughout ... Six nights dinner, bed
and continental breakfast at the Hotel ...
Is lunch included?
According to a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards
Authority, the traveller was entitled to expect that lunch
was included because that was the overall impression given
by the description.
The lesson is that to avoid giving a misleading
impression, if lunch is not included then it needs to be
specifically stated - Lunch is not included. If nothing is
mentioned about lunch then it is misleading to not include
For more details
Does Airbnb give Boutique Hotels and
B&Bs a competitive edge?
Traditional hotel chains and large resorts have long
dominated the accommodation industry because of their strong
brand marketing and distribution channels.
But as with so many other industries, the internet is
disrupting the traveller accommodation industry. Through
internet booking platform operators such as Airbnb, Stayz,
eDreams and Bookings.com, the internet is providing small
accommodation providers with easy and cheap access to a
global market for travellers, whether it is for business or
There are four services which Airbnb provides, which give
Boutique Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts a competitive edge over
traditional hotels and resorts, and which allows them to
by-pass the traditional travel agents (brick & mortar or
online) in making bookings:
- Bookings Management
- Payments Platform
- Property Damage & Injuries cover
These services are increasing lodging occupancy and
pricing power for small accommodation providers.
For more information about how Airbnb is empowering Boutique
Hotels and B&Bs to build their business,
legal compliance is making Airbnb attractive for property
owners in Australia
Airbnb describes itself in this way:
Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences in more
than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. Airbnb is the easiest
way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it
to an audience of millions.
In this article we look at why Airbnb is attractive to
property owners and what legalities need to be observed in
Sleaze has no place in the workplace
88% of sexual harassment complaints made to the Australian
Human Rights Commission are workplace related. Unwanted and
uninvited 'sharing' of sexual explicit photos and sexy texts
and making comments of a sexual nature, are two forms of
sexual harassment. In a recent decision by the Fair Work
Commission, a Cabin Crew Supervisor on an unnamed airline
was accused of sexual harassment which was primarily
directed to female flight attendants.
Has another business started using
your name? What can/must you do to stop them?
Sydney Medical Services has provided after-hours doctors for
home visits since 1971 in the Sydney Metropolitan region.
Last year. it had 76,885 home visits. Imagine its surprise
when early this year it noticed brochures advertising Sydney
Medical Services 2020 for after-hours doctors.
Why good lighting on the stairs
reduces liability risk for leisure venues
Good lighting on stairways is a top priority when
operating a club, bar or restaurant to reduce liability
There’s no longer any Travel
Agents Licensing in Australia
The sun set upon travel agents licensing in Australia on 30
The Publican, the Patron, the
Drinks and the Punch
Given that this incident happens on licensed premises, the
publican has a duty of care to prevent injury to patrons,
which they must fulfil or otherwise be responsible for
Are you thinking of setting up as a Tour Operator?
These are eight legal essentials to operating a tour
operator business in Australia.
Are you a target for consumer claims?
Strategies for Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Airlines,
Railway Operators and Accommodation Providers
Visas and passports can be costly!
Agents who overlook visa requirements....will find
themselves footing the bill for their clients’ alternative
travel, accommodation and meals
Just how suitable is that tour?
How far should a travel agent go to in recommending holiday
It pays to double check availability!
Just because the brochure says a ski resort is open on a
certain date, doesn’t mean that it will be...
We also offer a full service property practice; for
go to http://www.businesslawyer.com.au
The articles in this website provide a summary of the law.
They do not cover the whole of the relevant law on their
Moreover, because legal language is avoided wherever
possible, there may be some generalisations about the
application of the law. Some provisions of the law referred
to have exceptions or important qualifications. In most
cases, your particular circumstances need to be taken into
account when determining how the law applies to you.
For these reasons, the articles are not a substitute for
professional advice. Nor can we accept any responsibility
for any actions you may take or not take, after having read
Liability is limited by the Solicitors Scheme, approved
under the Professional Standards Act 1994 (NSW)
The material in this newsletter is © Copyright. Anthony J.
Cordato. Sydney 2007. A licence to use the material will be
granted, on application, free of charge, where the material
is to be used for self education or for non-profit purposes
and an appropriate acknowledgement is made of the source of
the material and the copyright. Permission may also be
granted for commercial use of the material, on terms, on
application. In all cases, unless permission is given, the
reproduction of the material by written, electronic or other
form is prohibited.
The pen and ink illustrations are by Yolande Bull, and are
published with the kind permission of Lexis Nexis.
Anthony J. Cordato