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Airbnb Listings Crackdown

By Ray White Whitsunday

Councillor Jan Clifford receives daily complaints from irate neighbours about noise from Airbnb-listed properties.

While she hasn’t tracked exact numbers of local listings on the popular online accommodation platform, she says a council crackdown is now imminent to ensure compliance.

“I’m really worried about it when I have people saying there are no regulations, no inspections, no anything,” the division one councillor said.

“I tell you, if someone rented out a party house next to me, I’d go off my tree.”

Airbnb’s top listing in Airlie Beach for $400 per night boasts four bedrooms with capacity for eight guests. It is centrally located with a sea view, private pool, “beautifully decorated and is built to deal with the Whitsunday weather”.

Cr Clifford believed the majority of the 300-plus Whitsunday listings on Airbnb were actually run by licensed operators.

“But at the end of the day, you can’t just do what you like. You have to do a material change of use, or it’s illegal.

“There has to be notifications (going) out to the neighbours. You go and buy a million-dollar house in Nara Avenue or somewhere similar, the last thing you want is 20 footballers there for the weekend.”

Cr Clifford said she was in discussions with planners to work out how the rules and regulations might be made less “onerous” for those who were renting out a room in their homes and were still on site.

“I do appreciate that people would like to earn a bit of extra income and do what they like,” she said.

Mid range Airbnb apartment at Shingley Beach costs $209 per night and offers “a great location to use as a relaxing base for visiting the Whitsundays”. It has a open plan living area and private balcony looking out toward the nearby marina.

“But they can’t. It’s no longer a dwelling once you rent out a room, or operate a business out of it, and there are all sorts of implications for your insurance, rates and tax obligations.”

Neil McGaffin, the council’s director of planning and development, said a policy paper would be up for discussion in November to determine which way the council wanted to move in relation to Airbnb letting in the Whitsundays.

“Council is concerned about unregulated use, as it may have consequences in the event of things like fire,” Mr McGaffin said.

He said that, at present, the council was only responding to the complaints about Airbnb listings, and the current rules and regulations were perceived by many as complex and uncertain.

“Accommodation establishments who have complied with all planning, licensing and building requirements are understandably concerned that a level playing field is established.”

At the lower end of the price scale for $79 per night this two-bedroom Cannonvale apartment offers sea views, a fully equipped kitchen, spacious lounge area, separate bathroom and bedrooms, as well as private plunge pool and large deck.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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