WA government launches short-stay accommodation crackdown in bid to solve rental crisis

Western Australia’s government is cracking down on short-stay accommodation providers and offering property owners cash to put their homes back on the market for local renters.

Premier Roger Cook, his Commerce Minister Sue Ellery, and Planning Minister John Carey announced new regulations on Thursday morning, which will apply to short-term rental accommodation (STRA).

Among the changes are a statewide register, new planning approval rules for STRA properties in the Perth metropolitan area, and a $10,000 incentive scheme to encourage current STRA owners to put those properties back into the long-term rental pool.

The new rules come as WA renters battle a lack of available properties and soaring costs. In September, REIWA reported Perth had a vacancy rate of 0.7 per cent.

The average rental price for a house was $600 a week, with renters paying on average $550 a week for a unit.

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Camera IconWA’s short-stay accommodation owners will be offered $10,000 to put their properties on the long-term rental market. NCA NewsWire / Sharon Smith Credit: Supplied

Minister Carey said he believes it’s a fair and balanced approach.

“We have cases in councils now where if you’re running and a bed and breakfast because you serve a bit of cereal and orange juice, then you have to get planning approval. But someone down the street doesn’t need planning approval because it’s an Airbnb or another type of short-term rental,” Mr Carey said.

“No one I speak to believes that that is a fair play … everyone believes they should have a right to know where there are short-term rentals operating in their community. The register, and the planning approvals, does this.”

He said he thinks local governments will take a reasonable approach and strike the right balance.

The government has allocated $2.7m for the incentive scheme. Commerce Minister Sue Ellery conceded it’s hard to tell how many STRA owners will take up the offer, since no one scheme has been tested to deliver a precise number anywhere in the world.

“What seemed to be successful was policies that were local in their application,” Ms Ellery said.

Camera IconWA Premier Roger Cook said he’s encouraging owners of short-term rental accommodation to consider the new incentive. NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes Credit: News Corp Australia

Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Australia and New Zealand Michael Crosby said they’re “glad to see a clearer outline” of the regulations, following an extensive consultation period.

“Airbnb has long advocated for the merits of a statewide registration scheme, which will give policymakers and the public a clear idea of how many short-term rentals there are, and where they are located,” Mr Crosby said.

“This will allow the Government to make informed decisions based on accurate data and we look forward to working with the Government on getting this system set up and getting the privacy settings right.”

He added the incentive cash payment is “unlikely to make a significant difference to housing supply, given short-term rentals in WA make up a small per cent of total housing stock.”

Fellow major STRA provider Stayz has also been contacted for comment.

Registration opens mid-2024, and all STRA properties will need to be registered by January 1 2025 — including those that don’t need planning approval.

Un-hosted short term rentals within the Perth metro area will need council approval if they operate for more than 90 nights in a 12-month period.

To qualify for the $10,000 STRA Incentive Scheme payment, the entire property must have been available on STRA platforms, such as Airbnb or Stayz, within the past six weeks.

Applicants will also need to provide a minimum 12-month lease agreement to new, long-term tenants, with a maximum cap on rent based on region.

For example, the cap will be $800 per week in Perth and Mandurah, and $650 per week in the South West.

The $10,000 will also be paid out in two stages: $4000 once eligible applications are approved, and $6000 after the long-term tenancy rental agreement reaches 12 months.

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