The housing crisis and new legislation could lead to changes in how Airbnb and short-term letting is managed on the Gold Coast and in other QLD body corporates.
Short-term letting, more commonly known as Airbnb letting, continues to be one of the major flashpoints of dispute in Queensland body corporates as the industry struggles to find a balance between the right of investors to make a profit on their units and the right of occupants to live in an apartment block rather than a hotel.
Are Qld body corporates hoping to regulate Airbnb or short-term letting out of luck?
Mostly, the law has taken the view that Gold Coast body corporates and in other areas in Qld hoping to regulate Airbnb or short-term letting are out of luck. Leasing is viewed as a matter internal to units and any by-laws attempting to control this have been deemed invalid.
Some jurisdictions, including the Gold Coast, have specific council regulations around short-term letting although enforcement has not always been strong meaning that while body corporates could report a lot to council if they believed it was in violation of local laws, any follow up is dependent on the will power of that council to take action.
Owners have been left in the position of just having to muddle through as best they can. The result has been that Body Corporates (all owners) have had to deal with the impact of short-term rentals – noisy guests, parking problems, and waste disposal issues etc. – while the benefits have only gone to a few.
Now though, it’s time to start wondering if the status quo might be changing. The housing shortage crisis in SEQ is intensifying with rent rising steeply as available properties remain at a minimum. A reduction in short-term letting capacity is seen by many as a potential quick-fix solution to a problem that is getting out of hand.
Last year, the Queensland Government announced a review into the impact of short-term rentals although results of any investigation remain in the pending tray. Experience shows that governments tend to be far quicker to announce reviews than conclude them. Even if a report came out this year, it is likely it will have to tread a fine line between easing the rental crisis and helping troubled body corporates on the one side and supporting the tourism industry and investors on the other. Those waiting for something decisive are likely to be disappointed.
Look to your Local Council
Still, if the state government is taking its time to provide leadership, other parties will not wait so long. Earlier this year, the Gold Coast Council announced it planned to step up efforts to regulate unapproved short-term letting operations. In beachside areas of the Gold Coast, owners who want to lease on a short-term basis are required to have council approval with the application fees required to obtain the necessary permits costing between $7000 – $9500 and further costs in additional rates. Over the last 12 months, council has issued over 250 show cause notices against unit owners believed to be in breach of the regulations and that number could be set to jump if only because the council is realising how much potential revenue it is passing up in not enforcing its own rules.
Individual, body corporates are also opening cracks in the orthodox view that they are limited in their capacity to resolve issues by themselves. The Spice Apartments in Brisbane have recently won a case preventing the management rights holders of that building from running a short-term letting operation after successfully arguing that the development application at the site did not allow for that type of accommodation. This was an innovative bit of thinking into how the law could be applied and other schemes will doubtless start reviewing their DA’s to see if they can achieve a similar result.
It’s not clear what will happen next, but a policy area that has been stuck in gridlock for many years is now seeing some movement that could speed up quickly. Watch this space.
Read more about Airbnb in QLD body corporates
LookUpStrata has a series of Q&As about short term letting in Qld body corporate here: Q&A Power to Stop Short Term Rentals in our Building
Hynes Legal have a good summary of the general legal position on Queensland’s short-term letting on their website: Can a Queensland body corporate stop Airbnb?
ABKJ Lawyers have a summary of the short-term letting rules on the Gold Coast on their website: Airbnb & the Law on the Gold Coast
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