WA releases draft planning policy on unregulated housing

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Proposals including a cap on nights booked in non-hosted short-term rental accommodation are one of several recommendations open for consultation by the Western Australian state government as part of a new draft planning policy.

The proposed cap would require private accommodation used for short-term rental to obtain development approval if it is used for more than a designated number of days per calendar year to provide short-term accommodation outside of the framework of a traditional real estate lease. Properties used for more than the allotted number of days will be considered “vacation used” under the proposed changes.

The new Draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism and Guidelines report aims to give local councils control over how private units, apartments and houses in their jurisdictions might be offered and operated for short-term rentals at sites Web such as Airbnb and other flatshares. platforms.

It is recommended to offer a designated number of days per year for short term rentals without approval.

Input is sought from local councils on whether owners of these properties should be exempt from local planning and development laws.

Non-hosted accommodation, for reporting purposes, is defined as a regular owner or occupier who is not present when guests stay. Individual rooms in an occupied dwelling are considered exempt from the requirement for a development approval.

The draft planning policy is a response to a 2019 parliamentary inquiry, led by Jessica Shaw, MP, which recommended the adoption of a flexible, low-cost and user-friendly registration system for short-term housing providers in the whole state.

Australian Hotels Association (WA) CEO Bradley Woods welcomed the proposed policy amendments, describing them as a significant step forward for the state-licensed accommodation industry.

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CEO of AHA WA, Bradley Woods

“In the absence of any regulation, the explosion of short-stay properties has led to countless problems across WA,” Woods said.

“Community amenities have suffered from the rise of party houses and illegal activities, while unregulated short-stay properties have compounded the problem of housing affordability.

“The draft position statement proposes a regulatory model that will allow true hosted home sharing to continue, but will see appropriate regulation of unlicensed commercial hosting services.”

Woods said the state’s labor shortages were more pronounced in areas where short-term housing had been allowed to run rampant, preventing workers from living there due to the removal of so many properties from the long-term rental market.

“Tens of thousands of jobs in Western Australia are in the accommodation industry – it is no longer tenable that their jobs are being compromised by unregulated competitors,” Woods added.

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