AHA decries short-stay rort in ACT

The Australian Hotels Association general manager Gwyn Rees has warned that private residences let as short-stay accommodation are deadly fire traps –

and illegal sub-letting is harming an already depressed tourism sector.

Mr Rees has urged the ACT government to crackdown on the practice, which he linked to a fall in hotel numbers. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were 58 hotels in the ACT in 2006.

”By 2010 this number has fallen to 54 and as at the March quarter of 2011 [it] was down to just 51,” Mr Rees said. ”In addition to not paying GST these providers are seriously hurting legitimate tourism operators and discouraging investment in hotels.”

But the government has denied there is a problem. A spokeswoman for the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate said the government was not aware of ”any systemic use of residential premises as hotels”.

”Use of residential premises as a hotel would be an offence under the Planning and Development Act 2007 and the Building Act 2004.”

Mr Rees said this type of accommodation posed problems for the disabled and it increased the risk of fatal fires and a search of the Internet shows hundreds of homes and units in residential areas across Canberra available for short-term holiday rentals.

”Legally, tourism accommodation developments must be class three buildings. However, apartments in class two buildings are being converted to tourism simply by advertising room nights directly to traveller… class three buildings are subject to much stricter standards and building codes, for example in relation to disabled access and fire safety.’

He said the illegal operators also avoided public liability insurance, innkeepers liability and GST.

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