The Western Australian Government has released a new draft planning policy to give direction to local governments on managing short-term rental accommodation within their local planning framework.

The Draft Position Statement: Planning for Tourism and Guidelines 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.

The Position Statement includes a definition for ‘hosted’ accommodation, which is exempt from development approval where the person who lives in the house or dwelling is present when guests are staying.

One of the proposals out for consultation includes a ‘cap on nights’ for unhosted accommodation, where dwellings rented out for a designated number of days per calendar year do not require development approval.

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.

The draft planning policy is part of the Western Australian Government’s response to the recommendations of the 2019 Parliamentary inquiry ‘Levelling the Playing Field – Managing the impact of the rapid increase of Short-Term Rentals in Western Australia’.

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.

Western Australia Planning Minister, Rita Saffioti, said, “There has been a rapid growth in short-term rental accommodation providers throughout Western Australia.

“Our Government is implementing initiatives to better manage the sector, to provide greater certainty to the tourism industry, accommodation providers and guests, and make sure property owners know what is expected of them.

“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.

“The draft position statement is now open for public comment and we are particularly interested to get the community’s thoughts on the proposed development approval exemptions for some forms of hosted and unhosted short-term rentals. I’d encourage everyone to go online and have your say.”

Western Australia Local Government Minister, John Carey, said, “Developing a registration system that encompasses more than 130 local governments will 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.

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

“Feedback on this public consultation will also help inform how a registration system may work, so I encourage anyone that has an interest in these reforms to jump online and have their say.”

The new planning policy can be found here.

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