Audit on Unauthorised Holiday Homes
In accordance with Council’s resolution of 12 September 2018, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River will soon commence a focussed compliance campaign in relation to dwellings being used as short stay accommodation without development approval.
What is a ‘holiday house’?
‘Holiday House’ in the context of the Shire’s local planning scheme and policy is a dwelling or residential unit used to provide accommodation for periods of less than 3 months. It does not include dwellings that only provide holiday accommodation for their owner or dwellings where there is a permanent occupant who lets out two or less bedrooms.
Holiday Houses are commonly referred to as ‘Airbnbs’, but not all holiday houses are listed on Airbnb and not all the listings on Airbnb are necessarily holiday houses.
Why is the Shire taking this action?
• Retaining affordable long term housing - There is a shortage of long term affordable housing in the Shire and this becomes particularly evident during periods of greatest tourist activity. When dwellings are taken out of the rental pool and made available on a short terms basis, supply is reduced and prices increase. The Shires policy provides a balance between adequate provision of both long and short terms rentals. Compliance action against non compliant operators ensures the Shire’s policy objectives can be met.
• Preserving residential amenity – Local communities and neighbourhoods, especially those that are new or still establishing, need long-term residents to function. People can’t form relationships with their neighbours if they change every week. Understandably, tourists behave differently from permanent residents as they seek to enjoy our region and in doing so, can unintentionally create offsite impacts such as noise and vehicle movements outside of which might normally be expected in residential areas. The Shire seek to maintain harmonious residential settlements by only allowing holiday homes in certain areas. Non-compliant operators disrupt residential amenity by ignoring these rules.
• Protecting home owners – Proper insurance is a reasonable expectation for holiday home operators to protect owners against the costs associated with an unfortunate accident. How would an insurance claim be affected if the holiday home did not have the required Shire approvals?
• Applying reasonable controls – Approved holiday home operators are subject to conditions which provide a benchmark for levels of management, fire protection and safety. This provides a mechanism for the Shire to take action in the case that (for example) issues are raised by a neighbour. Non compliant operators are not subject to any rules and hence are more likely to disrupt the quite enjoyment of their neighbours.
• An equitable contribution to our community – Approved holiday home owners pay additional Shire rates reflective of the enhanced capacity of a holiday home to generate income. Shire rates go towards providing and maintaining all of the necessary facilities provided by the Shire for residents and visitors alike. Noncompliant operators place a greater financial burden on all ratepayers by not making an equitable contribution.