Short term rental accommodation

The State Government is implementing initiatives to support a consistent and equitable approach to the short-term rental accommodation market in Western Australia.

Draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism and guidelines

The draft Position Statement aims to provide clear and consistent guidance on the definition and treatment of short-term rental accommodation to:

  • Complement existing local planning frameworks.
  • Encourage a consistent approach to managing and regulating short-term rental accommodation amongst local governments.
  • Provide greater clarity for short-term rental accommodation providers and the broader community.

View the Western Australian Planning Commission’s draft Position Statement and Guidelines:

Public consultation on the draft Position Statement and Guidelines is now CLOSED. 

The WAPC will consider the over 2,000 submissions received on the drafts before releasing a final Position Statement that local governments can use to help guide policy-making in their community. 

Following analysis of feedback received on the draft Position Statement and Guidelines, the Government, on advice from the WAPC, will commence the process of amending the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 to introduce new land use definitions and development exemptions into all local government planning schemes.

Please note this page will be regularly updated as information becomes available. You can also join our subscriber list to receive updates.

Short-term rental accommodation registration scheme 

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. 

Public consultation on preliminary details about the registration scheme has now closed.  Submissions received will be provided to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries for their consideration.

If you have any other queries on the registration scheme please contact the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries on stra.enquiry@dlgsc.wa.gov.au.

Whole-of-Government initiatives 

The 2019 Parliamentary inquiry ‘Levelling the Playing Field: Managing the impact of the rapid increase of short-term rentals in Western Australia’ made recommendations in relation to short-term rental accommodation in Western Australia. 

In February 2020 the State Government responded (read the media statement) to the inquiry and committed to: 

  • Prepare a position statement for tourism to update definitions relating to short-term rental accommodation and provide greater guidance to local governments about ways to appropriately regulate short-term rental accommodation – public consultation on the draft ran from 6 December 2021 to 7 March 2022
  • Update the Planning and Development (Local Planning Scheme) Regulations 2015 to include new definitions – coming soon
  • Establish an interagency working group to investigate and make recommendations on a State-wide registration scheme for short-term rental accommodation – coming soon
  • Develop a public education campaign addressing necessary requirements to operate short-term rental accommodation in Western Australia, including public health and safety, taxation, insurance, amenity requirements, and due-diligence obligations – this campaign ran in 2020 and was completed in September 2020. Information is available at https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/short-term-rental-accommodation 
  • Update guidance to help strata companies manage short-term rental accommodation. This has been completed as part of Landgate’s Strata Titles Act Reform – information is available in Landgate’s Guide to Strata Titles at landgate.wa.gov.au.

Additionally, the Minister for Planning requested the Western Australian Planning Commission investigate potential planning exemptions for low-scale hosted and unhosted accommodation from the requirement to obtain development approval. 

Please email stra.enquiry@dlgsc.wa.gov.au if you have any queries on the registration scheme for short-term rental accommodation. 

Please email tourism@dplh.wa.gov.au if you have any questions on the draft Position Statement.

Please note this page will be regularly updated as information becomes available.

What is short-term rental accommodation? 

Short-term rental accommodation is the common name given to holiday homes, units or apartments offered for short-term renting, usually through an online booking platform or management agency. These places are usually built for residential purposes in residential areas. 

Short-term rentals can be either hosted (where the host lives onsite to manage any issues with guests) or unhosted (where guests have full use of a property, without the owner living on site).

The use of short-term rental accommodation is a long-standing tradition for Western Australian families, especially over the summer and school holiday periods. Commonly, they can be:

  • a family holiday home
  • a property purchased solely for the purpose of short-term renting
  • residents looking to let spare bedrooms, sections of the house or ancillary accommodation on a short-term basis.

Why are these initiatives being undertaken?

The success of online booking platforms offering accommodation has seen a rapid increase in short-term rentals in Western Australia, with high concentrations of offerings in popular tourist locations.

The Parliamentary Inquiry found that short-term rentals are a genuine income source for some people and are increasingly used by guests; however, there was often inconsistent regulatory requirements and numerous examples of adverse impacts on neighbours and local communities.

Led by Jessica Shaw MLA, the Parliamentary Inquiry presented 10 recommendations to improve outdated and inconsistent policy governing short-term rentals, and create greater certainty for the tourism industry, accommodation providers and guests.

The State Government has adopted a whole-of-Government approach to respond to the recommendations, including investigating appropriate regulatory or legislative frameworks that can meet the needs of this rapidly changing sector.

How is short-term rental accommodation currently regulated and managed?

Local governments are responsible for establishing and managing any planning and regulatory requirements for short-term rental accommodation in their area. This discretion facilitates flexible responses to local conditions and the wishes of communities.

There are a range of existing obligations that short-term rental operators may be subject to or should consider. Please refer to the Consumer Protection website for further information. 

Landgate has also prepared information for strata owners and this is available in the Guide to Strata Titles on their website.

How will things change once the new position statement and registration scheme are introduced? 

The existing role and responsibility of local government to regulate short-term rental accommodation will remain essential. 

The proposed initiatives will complement existing local planning frameworks and provide greater clarity for short-term rental providers and the broader community. 

The new Position Statement will help ensure consistency in the way short-term rentals are treated in the planning system throughout the State. This is largely achieved through changes to the new and amended model and deemed definitions being proposed in local planning schemes.

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. 

The registration scheme and planning system changes will be operated by different State Government departments but will run in parallel to one another. 

How do I know if I already need approval from my local government to run a short-term rental?

Contact your local government to find out what approvals (such as a development approval) and requirements may be required to operate a short-term rental in your area.

How do I know if I already need approval from my strata company or community corporation to run a short-term rental? 

Some strata or community schemes may restrict short-term rental accommodation within the scheme using by-laws. Check with your strata company or community corporation. 

What will the Position Statement do?

A position statement sets out the policy position of the Western Australian Planning Commission with respect to a particular matter.

The draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism will help guide local government policy-making. It sets out the considerations for planning for tourism in Western Australia through strategic and statutory planning instruments, such as a local planning strategy, local planning scheme or local planning policies. This will include land use definitions for local government to utilise through their planning documents. 

The draft Planning for Tourism Guidelines provide guidance on the implementation of the Position Statement.

What types of accommodation does the Position Statement cover? 

The draft Position Statement covers all types of tourist accommodation which are rented on a short-term basis. It does not cover the personal use of a holiday home or sharing with family and friends. 

Accommodation such as lodging houses, lifestyle villages and workforce accommodation are not subject to the Position Statement as they are subject to other legislative requirements and are not generally associated with the tourism industry.  

How does the Position Statement affect short-term rental owners? 

The Position Statement proposes some changes to the way short-term rental accommodation is defined in Western Australia. It also proposes that some forms of short-term rentals should be exempt from needing development approval from their local government, see below.

Will some forms of short-term rental accommodation be exempt from the need to obtain development approval to operate?

The Government is considering whether the following forms of low-scale short-term rental accommodation should be exempt from needing development approval:

  • Hosted accommodation in a single house (or ancillary dwelling), grouped or multiple dwelling which does not exceed a maximum of four adults (or one family) and a maximum of two guest bedrooms.

Example – A landowner lets out their granny flat to guests for three months a year, whilst they live in the single house, without needing development approval.

Example – A two-bedroom apartment owner lets out a room to guests for 12 months a year whilst they live in the apartment, without needing development approval.

  • Unhosted accommodation in a single house, grouped or multiple dwelling where it is let for no more than 60 days per calendar year.

Example – Whilst on holiday, a landowner lets out their apartment to guests for 50 days a year without needing development approval. In this instance, strata company approval was required prior to registering the property with the State-wide register.

These proposed exemptions intend to introduce a level of consistency and clarity for homeowners who temporarily let out their home. In some parts of the state this will make it easier for homeowners by removing the need to obtain development approval.

Subject to the results of consultation, changes will be made to introduce these development exemptions to all Western Australian local planning schemes. 

These change of use exemptions would only apply in zones where a single house, grouped or multiple dwelling is an acceptable use under the local planning scheme. For example, a single house would not be a permitted use in an industrial zone, and therefore a change of use of a single house for short-term accommodation would also not be exempt from the need for development approval. 

I don’t meet the proposed room and guest cap for hosted accommodation to be exempt from development approval; can I still operate my hosted accommodation?

If you do not meet the proposed exemption criteria for hosted accommodation, then you can operate if you meet the requirements of the respective local government. This is because if exemptions are introduced, local government will be responsible for regulating hosted accommodation which does not meet the proposed room and guest cap. 

For example, your local government may not impose any planning controls on hosted accommodation which exceeds the hosted accommodation exemption criteria, and you may continue to operate in accordance with any applicable health and safety requirements. 

Please note, if State-wide development exemptions are introduced, further advice as to when they will come into effect will be provided to communities, local government and industry. Until this time, the current requirements in place by the respective local government continue to apply.

I don’t meet the proposed 60-day cap for unhosted accommodation to be exempt from development approval; can I still operate my unhosted accommodation? 

If you operate your unhosted accommodation for more than 60-days a year, then you can operate if you meet the requirements of the respective local government. This is because if exemptions are introduced, local government will be responsible for regulating unhosted accommodation which exceeds the proposed 60-day cap. 

For example, if you operate for more than 60-days, your local government may require you to obtain development approval to operate. 

Please note, if State-wide development exemptions are introduced, further advice as to when they will come into effect will be provided to communities, local government and industry. Until this time, the current requirements in place by the respective local government continue to apply.

How can I provide feedback about these proposed exemptions?

The WAPC, on behalf of Government, is seeking your feedback on the development exemptions listed above. To provide comment, head to the Consultation Hub. The submission period closes 7 March 2022. 

Note: there are no immediate changes to existing approvals and requirements imposed by your local government. Please contact your local government to find out what current approvals and requirements are in place to operate a short-term rental accommodation. 

Under the hosted accommodation proposed exemptions, will I be able to let out both bedrooms of my two-bedroom apartment to guests? 

In order to meet the proposed hosted accommodation exemption cap (maximum of four adults or one family, and two bedrooms), the host must reside within the same apartment for the duration of the guest stay. For example, you could rent out one-bedroom to two adults whilst you reside in the second bedroom. 

If your dwelling doesn’t meet the hosted accommodation caps (e.g. it is a one bedroom apartment) then you can’t exceed the capacity of the dwelling in order to provide hosted accommodation.

I want to let out my grouped or multiple dwelling, will I need approval to operate a short-term rental?

Check with your local government and strata company or community corporation for any approvals or other requirements that may be in place.

Further guidance is provided in the draft Planning for Tourism Guidelines (section 6, page 14). 

Landgate has also prepared information for strata owners in the Guide to Strata Titles and this is available on their website.

Under the proposed development exemptions, where there are no strata company or community corporation by-laws prohibiting the use, grouped or multiple dwellings let as short-term accommodation for no more than 60 days per calendar year would be exempt from the need to obtain development approval under the changes being considered. 

Once the registration scheme is in place, you will need to register the property to operate as a short-term rental.

What are the next steps? 

Position Statement and Guidelines

The WAPC recently sought public comment on the draft Position Statement and Guidelines. The WAPC will consider the over 2,000 submissions received on the draft before releasing a final Position Statement that local governments can use to help guide policy-making in their community. 

Following analysis of feedback received on the draft Position Statement and Guidelines, the Government, on advice from the WAPC, will commence the process of introducing new land use definitions and development exemptions into all local government planning schemes, via amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015.

Please note, if State-wide development exemptions are introduced, then further advice as to when they will come into effect will be provided to communities, local government and industry. Until this time, the current requirements in place by the respective local government authority continue to apply, including applying for development approval. Contact your local government to find out what approvals and requirements may be required to operate short -term rental accommodation in your area.

Until these changes are made, local government is encouraged to adopt the definitions in the draft Position Statement. 

 

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Page reviewed 28 March 2022