Why Noosa has declared war on the Airbnb boom

The council governing one of Queensland’s most attractive tourist destinations, Noosa Shire, is set to press ahead with moves to regulate the operation of properties offered up as homeshare and short-stay rentals on online platforms like Airbnb.

Mar 04, 2021, updated Mar 05, 2021
Queensland was the most desired destination this year Photo: Raygarhe/Unsplash

Queensland was the most desired destination this year Photo: Raygarhe/Unsplash

Noosa Shire Council is struggling to cope with the impact of the thousands of local houses and units being offered up on websites like Airbnb and Stayz, which has led to a surge of waste, noise, traffic and public safety problems.

The lure of Airbnb has also helped drive a shortage of affordable permanent rental accommodation in Noosa.

The number of privately-owned properties in Queensland tourist hubs offering short-term accommodation has exploded in recent years with the rise of platforms including Airbnb and others, placing attractive destinations like Noosa under increasing pressure.

While the coranavirus pandemic’s impact on travel and tourism has reduced the impact in recent months, the pressure for better regulation of the short-stay industry is likely to increase as visitors return.

Noosa council’s planning and environment committee will meet next week to consider a draft local law imposing stringent requirements on operators in certain residential zones, including introducing a code of conduct for guests and a registration fee for such properties.

The proposed law would also impose a minimum 30 minute response time for complaints and definitions of what constitutes unacceptable guest behaviour.

“The advent of online booking platforms has…given rise to an increased number of permanent residential properties being purchased and used for short term accommodation, many being managed from a distance with no local presence, management structure or regulation,” the committee’s agenda states.

“This has resulted in the creep of short term accommodation and tourists into traditionally permanent residential areas.”

“In addition, many traditional holiday homes are being short stay let when not in use, creating a higher intensity and turnover of guests than historically experienced.”

Other councils like Gold Coast City Council have amended their planning laws to ban or regulate so-called “party houses” but these have been criticised as inadequate.

Noosa had wanted to introduce a local law governing Airbnb properties in 2019 but held off when the Palaszczuk Government signalled it would consider statewide regulation.

However, a lack of movement on the issue from the state has prompted the council to go it alone.

NSW, Tasmania and South Australia have all introduced statewide regulations for the sector.

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The job of bringing the Airbnb industry under control will not be easy: the council estimates that of the 4880 properties in the shire operating short-stay letting or home-hosted accommodation, 3639 of them would need to be registered under the proposed law.

Council officers say the extra workload would require an extra three compliance staff as well as “full-time administration support”.

Officers have suggested the council recover such costs through an application and renewal fee for those property owners subject to the proposed new law.

“Should the revised draft local law not proceed, short stay letting and home hosted accommodation will continue unregulated with further risk of impacting the residential amenity of permanent residential areas and guest safety,” the officers have told the council.

However, they haver also warned there is a risk that property owners will opt not to comply with the new local law.





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