Airbnb list­ings crack­down

Coun­cil to tighten reg­u­la­tions

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - James Gra­ham James.Gra­ham@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

COUN­CIL­LOR Jan Clif­ford re­ceives reg­u­lar com­plaints from irate neigh­bours about noise from Airbnb-listed prop­er­ties.

While she hasn’t tracked ex­act num­bers of lo­cal list­ings on the pop­u­lar on­line ac­com­mo­da­tion plat­form, she says a coun­cil crack­down is now im­mi­nent to en­sure com­pli­ance.

“I’m re­ally wor­ried about it when I have peo­ple say­ing there are no reg­u­la­tions, no in­spec­tions, no any­thing,” the di­vi­sion one coun­cil­lor said.

“I tell you, if some­one rented out a party house next to me, I’d go off my tree.”

Cr Clif­ford be­lieved the ma­jor­ity of the 300-plus Whit­sun­day list­ings on Airbnb were ac­tu­ally run by li­censed op­er­a­tors.

“But at the end of the day, you can’t just do what you like. You have to do a ma­te­rial change of use, or it’s il­le­gal.

“There has to be no­ti­fi­ca­tions (go­ing) out to the neigh­bours. You go and buy a mil­lion-dol­lar house in Nara Av­enue or some­where sim­i­lar, the last thing you want is 20 foot­ballers there for the week­end.”

Cr Clif­ford said she was in dis­cus­sions with plan­ners to work out how the rules and reg­u­la­tions might be made less “oner­ous” for those who were rent­ing out a room in their homes and were still on site.

“I do ap­pre­ci­ate that peo­ple would like to earn a bit of ex­tra in­come and do what they like,” she said.

“But they can’t. It’s no longer a dwelling once you rent out a room, or op­er­ate a busi­ness out of it, and there are all sorts of im­pli­ca­tions for your in­sur­ance, rates and tax obli­ga­tions.”

Neil McGaf­fin, the coun­cil’s di­rec­tor of plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment, said a pol­icy pa­per would be up for dis­cus­sion in Novem­ber to de­ter­mine which way the coun­cil wanted to move in re­la­tion to Airbnb let­ting in the Whit­sun­days.

“Coun­cil is con­cerned about un­reg­u­lated use, as it may have con­se­quences in the event of things like fire,” Mr McGaf­fin said.

He said that, at present, the coun­cil was only re­spond­ing to the com­plaints about Airbnb list­ings, and the cur­rent rules and reg­u­la­tions were per­ceived by many as com­plex and un­cer­tain.

“Ac­com­mo­da­tion es­tab­lish­ments who have com­plied with all plan­ning, li­cens­ing and build­ing re­quire­ments are un­der­stand­ably con­cerned that a level play­ing field is es­tab­lished.”

PHOTO: PETER CARRUTHERS

WHIT­SUN­DAYS WARN­ING: The coun­cil is dis­cussing ways to in­tro­duce a level play­ing field for all lo­cal Airbnb list­ings.

Mid range Airbnb apart­ment at Shin­g­ley Beach costs $209 per night and offers “a great location to use as a re­lax­ing base for vis­it­ing the Whit­sun­days”. It has a open plan liv­ing area and pri­vate bal­cony look­ing out to­ward the nearby ma­rina.

At the lower end of the price scale for $79 per night this two-bed­room Can­non­vale apart­ment offers sea views, a fully equipped kitchen, spa­cious lounge area, sep­a­rate bath­room and bed­rooms, as well as pri­vate plunge pool and large deck.

Airbnb’s top list­ing in Air­lie Beach for $400 per night boasts four bed­rooms with ca­pac­ity for eight guests. It is centrally lo­cated with a sea view, pri­vate pool, “beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated and is built to deal with the Whit­sun­day weather”.

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