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WA mulls regulations on short-stay accommodation

A set definition on short-stay accommodation in WA is on the way, along with mandatory registration.

Western Australia has joined Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales in taking steps to formally define and regulate the concept of short-stay accommodation, with a report recommending a number of measures to “level the playing field”.

The WA Economics and Industry Standing Committee has mandated the introduction of a state-wide registration scheme for all properties offering short-stay hosted or non-hosted accommodation, including the need to obtain and manage a valid registration number and provide data to a managing government agency.

According to the report, registration and accreditation will be managed by a state government agency, however it is not yet clear which one, although inter-agency collaboration has been all but ruled out due to the complexities involved regarding lines of accountability and consistent application of enforcement mechanisms. State and local government authorities will be expected to work together on implementation, data sharing and overall management of the system including the imposition of penalties for non-compliance.

The committee’s examination of the issue considered over 350 submissions from a variety of stakeholders and interested parties, most of whom supported regulation due to the measures it would take to protect tens of thousands of local jobs connected directly or indirectly to the sector.

Tourism Accommodation Australia National CEO, Michael Johnson, said the report lays out a clear road map for strong and effective regulation which can be applied throughout Australia.

“For too long we have seen the proliferation of unregulated short-stay accommodation across Australia, however, we are now seeing a number of jurisdictions take action to regulate and bring into line short-stay accommodation platforms and the properties they list.

“The explosion of unregulated short-stay accommodation represents a significant threat to employment opportunities within Australia’s licensed accommodation industry – a threat that will only grow if left unaddressed,” Johnson added.

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) CEO, Bradley Woods, said the report detailed what he described to be “the most thorough examination of unregulated short stay accommodation in Australia“.

“This report is aptly named Levelling the Playing Field as for too long we have seen platforms like Airbnb compete directly with licensed accommodation providers, but did not face the same regulatory, taxation or fire and safety burdens,” he said.

Accommodation Association of Australia CEO, Dean Long, welcomed the recommendations but said there was still considerable work to be done to develop a “comprehensive regulatory framework for the short-term rental industry in WA”.

“While there are a range of excellent recommendations in the report, they fall short of addressing the issues around safety and amenity, with the burden largely falling on local government authorities to ensure compliance,” Long said.

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