WA government release Draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism and Guidelines

Draft WA policy looks to cap short term accommodation nights to 60/year

An unhosted short term accommodation rental will be capped to 60 days per year under a new planning proposal by the state government.

The WA government released its Draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism and Guidelines on Monday December 6 and is now open for public comment.

The draft planning policy proposes changes for how short-term rental accommodation will be managed in the state.

It comes after the 2019 parliamentary inquiry 'Levelling the Playing Field - Managing the impact of the rapid increase of Short-Term Rentals in Western Australia'.

The draft policy suggests that under certain circumstances some unhosted and hosted accommodation should be exempt for needing a development approval.

Unhosted accommodation means the manager of the short-stay property does not reside at that property.

The policy outlines that if an unhosted property is only rented for 60 days a year, it does not need approval by the relevant local government.

A hosted property could be exempt from development approval if it does not exceed four people and a maximum of two bedrooms.

The position statement says 'This form of short-term rental accommodation is considered low-scale because the host resides on site, can manage any issues with guests and the tourism/commercial use of the property is incidental to the permanent residential use.'

It provides updated definitions on the use of houses, units and apartments for short-term rental accommodation, and seeks comment on whether providers of unhosted and hosted accommodation should be exempt from requiring development approval in certain circumstances.

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WA planning minister Rita Saffioti said the government's initiatives would better manage the sector and provide greater certainty to the tourism industry.

"We also want to ensure consistency across different local governments and help support them to better regulate and govern short-term accommodation providers within their area," she said.

Any premises used for more than the designated amount of days will be considered used for holidays and will require development approval, unless the local government chooses to extend this exemption via a change to its local planning scheme.

To support the changes, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries is investigating the implementation of a new State-wide registration system.

Under the proposed registration system, providers of short-term rental accommodation within Western Australia would be required to register their property to operate and advertise, including on online booking platforms.

Owners would receive a unique registration number, which would need to be advertised alongside the short-term rental.

Airbnb's Head of Public Policy for Australia and New Zealand Derek Nolan said the proposals would make family holidays in WA more expensive and cost jobs.

"These proposals are among the most restrictive in the nation, and will make Western Australians who share their homes worse off, make family holidays more expensive, and cost jobs," he said.

"At a time when WA is looking to keep tourism strong within the state, this would encourage visitors to head interstate and potentially internationally.

"Hosts across WA will be rightly concerned about their livelihoods and the fact that these new rules allow councils to suddenly and unilaterally introduce extremely heavy restrictions on a whim.

"A 60 night cap on short-term letting would be incredibly damaging not only to the livelihoods of thousands of everyday Western Australians, but also to the countless businesses and jobs that rely on the guests they bring."

Local government minister John Carey said developing a registration system for more than 130 local government would be a complex process.

"Which is why we need to make sure we take the time to get it right and thoroughly investigate how it would work," he said.

"While significant work is still required to understand how such a registration system would operate, it would help ensure owners are compliant with regulations."

Shire of Augusta Margaret River planning and regulatory services manager Matt Cuthbert said the shire would make a submission.

"The Shire supports the State Government in allowing local governments to continue to manage short stay accommodation in a way which is locally appropriate," he said.

"A matter which requires close consideration is the suggested 'exemption' from the need to gain approval for holiday homes utilised less than 60 days per year.

"The Shire encourages anyone with an interest in this topic to make a submission during the consultation period."

The draft policy paper is open for consultation until March 6, 2022.

To have your say on the new planning policy visit https://consultation.dplh.wa.gov.au