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Airbnb fights for rights in Tasmania

A proposed six-week limit on how long Tasmanians can rent out properties using Airbnb has sparked an appeal by operators of the online accommodation site.

As the island state considers new rules to govern use of the popular sharing economy business, the California-based company has warned such a move would put Tasmania at odds with international tourism hot spots including Paris, Milan and Amsterdam.

The Tasmanian Planning Commission will on Tuesday consider submissions from scores of stakeholders including Airbnb as it considers visitor accommodation standards across the state.

The state government has previously indicated it will create one system with a number of zones, each governed by a different set of guidelines.

It would allow for Airbnb property owners in residential zones to welcome paying guests for up to 42 nights a year, in a move thought to help with a shortage of hotels.

But in its 18-page submission, Airbnb said it is a “right” for people to share their property with a paying guest.

“The state would benefit from following the lead of other jurisdictions around the world, who like Tasmania also have strong tourism industries, and have legislated to permit home sharing of primary places of residence without limitation,” the submission reads.

For non-residential dwellings such as holiday homes, Airbnb suggested a limit of 180 nights per year.

“The various governments who have regulated short term letting around the world, have recognised the economic benefits that Airbnb brings to the communities it becomes part of,” the document continued.

The submission also opposed plans to prohibit properties larger than 160 square metres from listing with Airbnb.

Airbnb said it has about 2000 listings in Tasmania and in the 12 months up to May more than 106,000 guests have used the service in the island state.

Meanwhile, Airbnb’s home town San Francisco wants people who rent out their homes through Airbnb and other online platforms to follow some rules, and it wants the platforms to advertise only those rule-abiding listings – or face steep fines.

That means Airbnb and others must stick to advertising San Francisco hosts who have registered with the city and haven’t exceeded the number of nights they’re allowed to rent.

The penalty? Platforms can be fined $US1,000 ($A1,335) a day per violation.

Airbnb is suing its hometown, arguing that it’s not responsible for making sure hosts follow city rules and that San Francisco, the place that birthed some of the world’s most innovative startups, is undermining a bedrock principle that allowed those companies to flourish in the first place.


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