Eight-person limit on region’s short-term accommodation
NEW short-term accommodation developments will be limited to a capacity of eight people under amendments to local laws, a move that has sparked concern from an experienced property owner in the region.
Rob Turner, who owns a holiday rental in Cannonvale that can accommodate up to 20 people, expressed his concerns about amendments that were made to the council Planning Scheme in October that limits the number of guests permitted to stay in short-term accommodation.
Under the amendments, a maximum of eight guests, two guests per bedroom, are allowed in any new short-term accommodation developments.
Existing properties are not subject to the eight-person limit if their property was used for short-term accommodation before the law change in October 2019.
Existing short-term accommodation owners may apply for council confirmation of these “existing use rights” but will be requested to abide by the ground rules that are used for short-term accommodation including a statutory declaration that the premises will not be used as a ‘party house’.
Mr Turner said imposing these laws created unnecessary constraints on an industry that injected lots of money into the region’s economy.
“I just don’t think (council should) go around willy nilly and create these laws without consulting people,” he said.
“It’s a fairly significant industry and it affects a lot of people.
“If there are problem houses, they can be dealt with individually, don’t smack the whole industry because of a few problem houses.”
Whitsunday Regional Council’s manager of development assessments Doug Mackay said the limits on occupancy numbers were in place to keep a similar occupancy level to other houses in the area.
“The reason that was done was because council wanted to keep the use of units to the same sort of size you might see for an average family home,” he said.
“One of the concerns we get is that short-term letting is more likely to create more noise than permanent occupants.
“It’s a difficult balancing act but the maximum of eight is an attempt to try and retain a reasonable level.
“On the one hand we acknowledge that (short-term accommodation) brings money into the region, we acknowledge that it’s shifted income from one set of accommodation providers to another, but at the same time it’s a very difficult thing to regulate.”
Mr Mackay said he understood that not all properties had experienced noise complaints or trouble with tenants in the past, but that the rules were in place to ensure consistency for new developments.
“99 per cent of them operate very well, they’re managed well and run by locals,” he said.
“But it’s the tiny minority that create problems for everyone else.”
Mr Turner’s property will not be affected by the change of laws if he proves the ‘existing use rights’ as it was used as short-term accommodation prior to the October 2019.
However, Mr Turner still questioned the laws and said that state regulation was needed.
“I think it’s a statewide issue, or an Australia-wide issue for that matter, and I’m not sure council should be leading the way,” he said.
“I suppose we all get sick of being governed by the minority … somebody makes a noise once and it ruins it for the majority.
“It’s a huge industry we’re talking about here and if it doesn’t need to be regulated don’t do it, and if it does, consult us.
“If council have a problem, don’t smack all, smack one.”