Ten recommendations aimed at formally regulating the short-term rental accommodation industry have been presented to the Western Australia government as part of a report stemming from a recent parliamentary inquiry into the sector.
The inquiry, led by Jessica Shaw MLA, has recommended the adoption of a flexible, low-cost and user-friendly registration system for short-term accommodation providers across the state. In its report, the inquiry found short-term rentals were a “genuine income source” for some people and were widely and increasingly used by guests, however it cited numerous complaints and adverse impacts on local communities raised by neighbours and concerned stakeholders.
Other points of action include amending land-use definitions to clearly differentiate between hosted and unhosted accommodation; develop legislative or regulatory processes to have accommodation providers clearly display a valid registration number on all online selling platforms; updating strata rules to provide power to manage short-term rental operators and to create an educational campaign to ensure owners and property managers are aware of their obligations when operating a premises as a short-term rental.
The McGowan Government has pledged to adopt “nearly all the recommendations” and has established an interagency working group to consult with local governments and accommodation providers in order to create a registration system.
“We acknowledge the value that the community places on having access to short-term rentals and the contribution this sector is making to our economy through emerging service industries and new jobs – but we must also make sure there are appropriate protocols in place to ensure sustainability and support our traditional accommodation providers,” said WA Planning Minister, Rita Saffioti.
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has welcomed the inquiry’s findings, saying a clear roadmap to strong and effective regulation was now underway.
“The chaotic explosion of unregulated short-stay accommodation has jeopardised jobs, damaged community amenity, undermined investment and threatened the viability of many legitimate accommodation providers,” said AHA CEO, Bradley Woods.
“The AHA has long advocated for fair but strong regulation of the short-stay accommodation sector and the government’s response reflects the serious concerns within the community about illegal hotels operating in residential areas.”
Accommodation Association CEO, Dean Long, welcomed the inquiry’s findings, saying there was still considerable work to be done to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework.
“The acknowledgement of the need for registration is an important first step but its effectiveness in providing confidence to guests, residents and local government, will be determined in the implementation and management of the scheme.
“Specifically, the extent to which it is embedded in regulatory reform that protects the safety and amenity of guests and mitigates the ‘adverse impacts on local communities’.
“We continue to remain concerned that the report and the response fail to address the issues around safety and amenity, with the burden largely falling on local government authorities to ensure compliance. There is much to be learnt from overseas jurisdictions on the need for specific measures and penalties if we are to achieve real reform.”