Saturday, November 17, 2018

Margaret River imposes tough crackdown on illegal Airbnbs

Unregulated Airbnbs in Margaret River could attract fines of up to $250,000 under new local council rules.

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has appointed a holiday home compliance officer to review listings on short-stay platforms and inspect those suspected of lacking appropriate planning approval.

It will issue $500 infringement notices to offending properties, and owners continuing to rent them out without proper consent will be liable for prosecution under local government law which allows for penalties up to $250,000  and daily penalties of $25,000.

The tough new rules follow a resolution passed by council in September to launch a focused compliance campaign against unregulated homes.

“If you do not have a current development approval you should immediately cease letting the dwelling out for short term accommodation and not recommence unless or until you obtain approval,” council guidance says.

The measures come days after the WA state government announced a long-awaited inquiry into the short stay industry, following industry pressure for regulation of the Airbnb-style accommodation it claims is damaging the business of many traditional providers.

Airbnb says operators are suffering because of a tourism downturn, not competition from unregulated short stays.

Debbie Noonan, Margaret River Guesthouse owner and founder of the Registered Accommodation Providers of the Margaret River Region, welcomed the council action.

“Our shire has certainly listened in our meetings and taken steps in not just clearly spelling out what is and isn’t short stay accommodation, but putting in place clear measures to ensure residences and registered accommodation providers are protected,” she said.

The council has vowed to continue to act on complaints from neighbours and local residents about disruption cause by short-stay guests and says it will “prioritise these as has always been its approach”.

Retaining affordable housing stock and preserving neighbourhoods to ensure a sense of community are among its stated reasons for the new measures.

Protecting unsuspecting homeowners from the possibility of accident liability, establishing controls to ensure fire safety and noise compliance, and ensuring fairness across the sector are also factors, it says.

About Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson
Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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One comment

  1. Did the Augusta-Margaret River council consider the fact that shutting down short stay accommodation providers will cause mayhem for thousands of holiday makers with advance bookings for their summer holidays. The fallout consequences to the reputation of Augusta-Margaret River tourism and the immediate down turn in revenue to local businesses would be monumental. One has to question why visitors to the area have moved away from traditional accommodation providers choosing private residential accommodation instead? Could it be that family groups in particular prefer space to spread out and enjoy a place like home, somewhere to park the boat and have friends over for a barby. Why would short stay accommodation providers need a health permit and many of the other regulations around traditional providers when they are not serving food and not housing multiple groups in a confined area. The residential design codes already have rules around smoke alarms, fire regulations, pool safety and RCDs on power that have proven to adequately protect people living in residential properties. There is plenty of scope for all types of accommodation and the market has clearly shifted, we need to embrace the change and ensure local regulations are updated to ensure the vitality of tourism is maintained not squashed.

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