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Noosa Short Stay Letting and Home Hosted Accommodation Local Law

Noosa Short Stay Letting and Home Hosted Accommodation Local Law

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Posted March 2, 2023
Noosa Plan 2020

Twelve months in, and all is well… or is it?

Time flies when you are having fun, and this month Noosa Council will review the 12-month review report of the Short Stay Letting or Home Hosted Accommodation local law.

It seems like only yesterday that the office was inundated with applicants trying to ensure they had all their ducks in a row to secure permits to operate their Airbnb or bed and breakfast.

Now, 12 months later, Council is reviewing where it’s at, what worked well, what didn’t and where improvements could or should be made.

While Council will review the report and any recommendations for future action at their March meeting, here are some spoilers.

Overwhelming demand

It comes as no surprise that council offices were inundated with applications and enquiries when the new local law was announced and applications opened.

Council received over 2700 applications in the first 12 months of the law being in place, with 1968 approvals given. This means we still have about 700 applications outstanding.

Only 55 applications were refused for a variety of reasons.

Here at RG Strategic, we can confirm that many operators of short-term accommodation offerings were confused and worried about the changes Council was applying.

When we reviewed the process and forms upon release, we certainly raised concerns with Council about the application process and requirements (and spoke about such).

You’ll be happy to know that Council has recognised these concerns and made many changes to the application forms and documentation over the duration and have stated that they are continuing to do so to make the application process easier for new applicants (though we still think some things are too complicated and onerous for casual accommodation operators).

Hotline pick up (see what we did there?)

The STA hotline received 612 calls over the last 12 months. Of those calls, 105 were about approved properties and, unsurprisingly, 199, almost double, were about unapproved properties. Council has pointed out though that some calls may have been for the same property from different neighbouring sources.

While the hotline was a significant cornerstone of the proposed law and its management when mooted, many people are forgoing the hotline and contacting Council direct.

Three hundred fifty-eight complaints were made about STA properties in the previous 12 months, but only 185 came from the hotline – just over half.

Out of those complaints, the following actions arose:

  • 78 properties received a compliance letter to apply for the local law
  • 33 properties received a compliance letter regarding signs
  • 3 Compliance Notices issued
  • 1 Show Cause Notice issued

Make sure you comply.

Council’s Planning Department has indicated that they will be ramping up compliance in the next 12 months with a focus on the following:

  • signage audits
  • applications from STA properties without an approval
  • follow-up inspection of STA-refused properties.

What is Council proposing to do next?

There are still issues around STA properties and the impact on surrounding residents.

Council officers have identified these and have recommended steps to help address them. They highlighted a series of actions for Council to consider at their March meeting:

  1. Increase staff resources to include two additional local law assessment and compliance officers temporarily to assess the backlog of applications and undertake compliance action where required;
  2. Undertake compliance and enforcement action on properties operating short-stay letting or home-hosted accommodation without approval or not displaying an approval notice;
  3. Introduce an annual renewal fee on 30 June 2023 for all short-stay let and home-hosted accommodation properties on a sliding scale a
  4. Continue to monitor the implementation of the Short Stay Letting, or Home Hosted Accommodation local law and make improvements where needed; and
  5. Continue to liaise with the multi-interest stakeholder group on implementing the local law on an as-needs basis and thank this group for their input into the review process to date.

The following general recommendations and actions were also contained in the report and arose from various stakeholder engagement activities.

Resources and fees

  • Increase resources to assess the backlog of STA applications and undertake compliance action;
  • Report and recommend to Council on the resourcing costs, fees and charges, including an annual renewal fee.

Compliance

  • Continue to identify STAs operating without approval;
  • Reduce the timeframe to apply within 14 days of being notified;
  • Undertake compliance action for STA operating without approval;
  • Undertake an audit and compliance action on STA approval signage;
  • Require photographic evidence of approval sign for new approvals;
  • Review agent signage and undertake compliance where necessary.

Information and messaging

  • Continue to work with STA operators to improve the amenity outcomes for residents;
  • Review Good Management Guide to determine if better guidance is required for operators on better informing guests of code of conduct obligations and ways to reduce residential amenity impacts;
  • Continue to work with the hotline on clear messaging and consistency in complaints management – especially the process for STA operating without approval;
  • Continue to liaise with stakeholders on the implementation of local law.

Exemptions

  • Review local law exemptions as part of the Tourist Accommodation zone spatial review being separately reported to Council in the coming months.

Application process, assessment and conditions

  • Review application forms to include fees and clarify building classification requirements;
  • Review the examples of supporting material on the website and improve where necessary;
  • Establish tighter timeframes for STA assessment and information responses from applicants;
  • Better communicate the status of an application and expected assessment timelines;
  • Continue to improve in-house processes, procedures and staff training for continued consistency in STA assessment and compliance actions;
  • Investigate whether advice notes are required to better interpret conditions of approval and code of conduct for guest behaviour, including pool use and activity.

Website

  • Review and simplify website information, including directions to fees, approvals, complaints, examples of supporting information, approval and complaints statistics and better information for residents.
  • Review search engines and google searches to improve webpage optimisation.

Complaints management

  • Provide a summary of complaints to property managers for STA properties on request, excluding complainant details;
  • Investigate preparing a “good neighbour” guide for all residents, which could be distributed to new owners, real-estate letting agents and resident groups.

Where to from here?

We are happy to see council officers recognising these concerns and issues raised by the industry and proposing actions that appear to address concerns adequately.

Will everyone be happy? Of course not, but we must keep working toward a framework where both STA operators, their guests and neighbours can coexist happily.

If you are concerned about the STA local laws, or you would like to apply to operate a Short Term Accommodation offering, then the team at RG Strategic can ensure you meet all requirements.

Contact us today.

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