Short-term rental services have long been subject to a number of problems, but with Halloween and the coming holiday season still fresh in our minds one particular issue stands out: party noise. These rental services can be great for the economies of holiday hotspots, but the neighbours living around them are often left frustrated, unable to sleep while rowdy tourists disrupt their communities. There have been a number of attempts to control the noise that comes from these properties — not the least of which has been a recent effort from Airbnb to legally prevent one-night rentals in certain areas from making excessive noise with digital agreements and supplying rental owners with noise monitors. But does this keep nuisance noise out of holiday communities? If you’re a short-term renter, how can you be sure you don’t breach noise control regulations? And if you’re a short-term landlord, what can you do to protect your community and comply with your management service? Let’s discuss.
Nuisance Noise in Tourism Communities
Many communities — especially those close to beaches, natural wonders, or historically important sites — thrive through tourism. Here in Australia, tourism contributes over $122 billion to our economy each year, bringing life to rural and urban communities alike. But of course, those communities have residents who aren’t tourists — they live in these places, often working jobs that service the transient tourist population. They spend their days working hard to give the tourists great experiences, then head home to relax. On the other hand, many tourists moving through these communities will want to enjoy the bars, restaurants, and other nightlife on offer, which can sometimes lead to disruptive noise levels. It is therefore put to the local governments to determine precise rules around noise allowances, zoning, and particularly accommodation ordinances to balance the needs and wants of both the local residents who bring value to their area, and to the transient tourist population who boost their economy.
Currently, many local governments of tourism communities enact these rules through the same systems as any other government: wait for a noise complaint to be reported, send an environmental health officer or police officer to assess the situation and/or deliver warnings or fines to noise breaches, then move along. Residents can also lodge complaints directly to the websites, but without thorough research or prior knowledge of how the host is operating their rental, this is often ineffective. However, after constant complaints and pressure from residents and governments alike, short-term rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Booking.com have begun to take matters into their own hands.
What Hosts and Guests Need to Know
Since July this year, Airbnb has permanently banned all parties from their rentals. They’ve enacted this through strict rules around guest-host reviews and rental periods — basically, if you have a less-than-perfect rating, you cannot rent a full house for two nights or less. Though many of these rules were put in place during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, Airbnb has seen a 35% year-on-year decrease in noise complaints since, prompting them to make the changes permanent for the well-being of surrounding residents. While most of these rules are specific to the actions of guests, hosts are still required to comply with a few things, often at the behest of their region’s government as well as their rental service provider.
First of all, many areas have implemented restrictions on the number of properties able to be owned and leased out by individuals — often limiting it to one property per person. This isn’t universal, but it does allow hosts to give closer attention and consideration to their property and its position within the community.
Secondly, Airbnb is trialling smart noise detectors in some regions. These devices will notify hosts’ phones if they detect noise over a certain decibel limit for a particular period of time (usually 70+ decibels for 10 minutes or more). Hosts can then contact guests to resolve nuisance noise issues much faster than the local council or the rental platform would be able to. We think these are great solutions that swiftly cuts through a lot of the bureaucratic systems required by those bodies, and it seems like initial tests from Airbnb have proven promising. Hosts are also within their rights to install third-party noise monitors in their properties, though they do need to be sure that guests are aware of them.
Protecting our tourism communities is a group effort. From the local governments, residents, remote rental owners, and tourists, everyone who has a stake in these communities also has a stake in keeping them clean, safe, and relaxing places to be. Noise disrupts that, but through considered choices, we can all ensure that everyone’s holiday is a memorable one — for the right reasons.
If you’re curious about what NoiseNet can do to assist with your noise monitoring plan, head over to https://www.noisenet.com/ and give us a call.