Whitsunday Council to crackdown on holiday company
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has begun a crackdown on Airbnb services across the region.
Suzanne Greenhalgh, from Pauls Pocket near Proserpine, is one of the many locals who has trialled the holiday accommodation platform.
But recently she received a letter from council advising she was alleged to have broken several unlawful use laws and had three options to rectify the situation - cease using the room she was renting, demonstrate that the correct permits had been obtained or apply to council for a short term accommodation license.
Ms Greenhalgh rang Council and was shocked to learn an application would cost more than $4000.
It seemed a big stretch for a person who'd only ever made a couple of hundred dollars from Airbnb, with about five or six visitors in nearly two years at a charge of around $20 a night.
"There's no way I could make that ($4000) doing an Airbnb," she said.
Ms Greenhalgh said she first saw Airbnb in a magazine.
"There was this old couple in Sydney that did it and they supplemented their pension. I thought it was a great idea," she said.
But after receiving council's letter Ms Greenhalgh said she'd decided to stop, although there were other benefits than supplementary income to using the platform.
"We would give (guests) a little map on where to go, like Cedar Creek and Dingo Beach. One couple from England loved Dingo Beach so much they were looking at buying there," she said.
"I thought it was a great experience."
Local hoteliers however don't see it that way.
At Hotel Group Managing Director Jeff Aquilina said it was about following legislation, such as health and safety requirements.
"My concern is that people don't have to adhere to legislation or requirements that, as hotel operators, we have to," he said.
"There is so much occupational health and safety that we are rightly forced to follow.
"If they want to operate as a hotel then they should have to adhere to same requirements as we have to."
Councillor Jan Clifford agreed saying "the law is the law".
"You need Council approval. What happens if the place burns down?" she asked.
The Whitsunday Times found a search of Airbnb services revealed more than 300 listings for the region.
A Whitsunday Regional Council spokesperson confirmed council had received a variety of complaints about the rental of dwelling houses for short term holiday accommodation, "specifically the impacts this use is having on their amenity, unacceptable noise levels and the change in character of their neighbourhood".
"Council's Planning and Development officers did an audit of premises report as hosting Airbnb type operations and currently have a number of ongoing investigations in regard to compliance," the spokesperson said.
Conducting short term accommodation in a residential area requires a development application and anyone wishing to do this is advised to contact council to check with their Planning Scheme requirements.