Sydney teacher Peta Estens took her apartment building to a NSW tribunal when she was told its bylaws didn’t allow her to rent out her unit on Airbnb during her school holidays – and won.

The landmark decision, the first time strata bylaws have been overturned in favour of Airbnb in NSW, will have major repercussions for every apartment building that has tried to restrict short-term lets.

“I think it stops people running apartments like their own fiefdoms and trying to prevent people doing what they want with their own homes,” says Ms Estens, 38, a former rower for Australia.

“I made $13,000 last year on Airbnb by renting out my unit when I was away. Getting into the Sydney property market is so tough, especially knowing that interest rates will go up next year, so this really helps, and it’s good to know our rights are protected.”

But the ruling by the NSW Civil Administration Tribunal (NCAT) that bylaws, even when they’re in line with local council residential-only zoning, are secondary to the strata law principle that they cannot “prohibit or restrict” the operation of a lot, has ignited a fresh row about the future of short-term rentals in units.

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