Media Beat Up on Airbnb in Bayswater

Bad Publicity

Unfortunately the City of Bayswater has copped some bad publicity in WAToday and 6PR this week. I say unfortunately not because of bad publicity, this is after all often the instigator for positive change, no, I say unfortunately because the facts presented were fundamentally wrong.  

WAToday reporter Ray Sparvell wrote in his article ‘Bayswater’s $200,000 red tape nightmare for Airbnb operators‘ that a proposed policy being considered by council called for the following:

  • a planning application
  • detailed management plan
  • community consultation
  • consent of fellow strata title owners – where applicable
  • maximum number of six guests
  • owners to be living on-site
  • breakfast to be provided to guests
  • subject to requirements of Health Act
  • building approval
  • fire resistance
  • disability access

… and that failure to comply could result in fines of up to $200,000.

After I read the article I thought what is going on in the City of Bayswater and my gut reaction was that the City is facing a losing task if they want to try and combat short term accommodation just like State governments around Australia are facing a losing task in trying to fight uber. But after actually reading the proposed policy, something I guess few other people actually bothered to do, I see that the “facts” presented were wrong.

The proposed policy, which can be found on page 213 of the council agenda, states:

short term accomodation

From this it looks like it is not Bayswater’s requirements, but rather informing people that they may be subject to these requirements under the National Construction Codes. Hence the following points are not an imposition from Bayswater;  subject to requirements of Health Act, fire resistance and disability access.

short term accomodation 1

From this we know that owners don’t have to live on site, and ergo don’t have to provide breakfast.

The “onerous” obligations Ray Sparvell listed suddenly reduces to:

  • a planning application
  • detailed management plan
  • community consultation
  • consent of fellow strata title owners – where applicable
  • maximum number of six guests
  • owners to be living on-site
  • breakfast to be provided to guests
  • subject to requirements of Health Act
  • building approval
  • fire resistance
  • disability access

In relation to the “detailed management plan”, the proposed policy stated it is to include:

  1. a complaints management procedure which include the owner’s phone number.
  2. a code of conduct which details the expected behaviour of guests in an effort to reduce conflict between temporary and permanent residents of the area.
  3. that guests are informed of the ‘house rules’ and code of conduct.

As the West Australian correctly report, “The restrictions in the policy before tonight’s decision include property owners supplying the council with a management plan – outlining guest numbers, noise restrictions and house rules.” The West also states that the WA Planning Commission has statewide guidelines for short-term accommodation which state property owners should apply for approval from their local council.

It seems to me that the City of Bayswater is being pro-active in trying to put some guidelines in place, especially as it all resulted from some complaints by neighbours living next to a house being used on a full time basis as short term accommodation. And as to the $200,000 fine people are being threatened with, there is no reference to it in the policy at all, it just relates to the maximum fine permissible under the Planning & Development Act for non-complying land use and the fine is determined by a court.

As to my personal views on short term accommodation, I believe there needs to be a differentiation between someone who literally just wants to rent out a room/house for a temporary period because they may be going away for a month or so, and someone who has an investment property which is solely used as a short-term accommodation business. The former we shouldn’t involve ourselves with, the later we should have some guidelines which are aimed at ensuring neighbours are not adversely impacted.

(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)

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