Short-term rental accommodation

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Consumer

Short-term rental accommodation has increased in popularity in recent years. Homeowners want to make money by renting out a room or property to guests. Meanwhile holidaymakers and business travellers are looking for alternatives to traditional accommodation.

Information below addresses the responsibilities and requirements of:

  • short-term rental owners (or hosts); 
  • short-term rental guests; and 
  • buyers and sellers of properties which have been, or could be, used as short-term rental. 

Short-term rental owners (hosts)

Renting out a spare room or a home as a short-term rental is a great way to make extra money but there are a range of obligations you should be aware of.  

Local government approvals:

Each local council in WA has their own bylaws. Some local councils have bylaws specific to short-term rentals and holiday accommodation.

Visit the WA Government's Local laws register or contact your local council to find out if your property is subject to any:

  • approvals; 
  • public health and safety requirements; or 
  • amenities such as rubbish collection, parking or anti-social behaviour of guests.

Safety standards and signage:

  • Your property may be subject to safety standards and signage requirements. Contact your local government authority for further information. 

Insurance:

  • When renting your property as a short-term rental you should consider appropriate insurance. Insurance for short-term rental hosts is a specialised industry. 
  • There are a few specifically designed products currently on the market, as well as landlord insurances. 
  • Contact your insurance provider or broker to discuss which policy best fits your needs. 

Taxation:

  • When renting part or all of your property as a short-term rental you need to consider how income tax and goods and services tax (GST) applies to your income. 
  • For more information visit the Australian Taxation Office's The sharing economy and tax information.  

Also:

  • Be vigilant regarding safety of products in the property, including blind and curtain cords, furniture, electrical goods and kitchenware. Visit Product Safety Australia for more information. 
  • The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) provides a number of publications about fire safety which can be printed for your reference or for your guests. It is important to remember that not all guests will have English as their first language. DFES publications are available translated into 14 languages.  
  • The handy Fire and emergency information for guests document can be customised with details specific to your short-term rental. Once updated, print and leave the document in a convenient spot for your guests to reference. 

Short-term rental guests

Many short-term rental hosts advertise on a sharing economy platform. It is important to remember that your consumer rights are the same if you hire goods or buy services online. Your rights are the same if you use an app or sharing platform, or if you make in-store purchases. Read more about your consumer guarantees on the Australian Consumer Law website.

Before booking a short-term rental via an app or sharing platform, read the platform’s terms and conditions and ensure you understand the complaint management process, if they have one, before booking. Don’t forget, you have consumer rights and might be able to cancel the contract and obtain a refund if things go wrong.

If you have a problem with a product or service you purchased from an online platform, follow these steps to help resolve the issue:

  • speak to the seller or service provider.
  • contact the platform through their internal dispute resolution process, if they have one.
  • write a factual customer review and rate the trader on the platform.
  • lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection if the matter cannot be resolved with the platform and/or trader first.

Visit Consumer Protection’s The Sharing Economy for Consumers page for more information.

Buying a short-term rental 

If you are considering purchasing a property for short-term rental, it is important you explore any approvals you will need or whether there are any rules prohibiting short-term rental use, such as strata laws.

If you are considering purchasing a property, and the previous use of a property as short-term rental is relevant to you, you should ask:

  • whether it is currently, or 
  • has been previously, used as a short-term rental as part of your buyer due diligence. 

new registration scheme is currently under consideration. Visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for more information.

Selling a short-term rental 

When selling a property you should tell your real estate agent whether the property is currently, or has been previously, used as a short-term rental. The current or previous use of the property as a short-term rental may be considered a material fact by some buyers. If so, disclosure of material facts requirements apply.

If you are asking your real estate agent to market your property as a potential short-term rental to prospective purchasers, any advertising or promotion should tell buyers to explore the suitability for short-term renting. It is important to qualify that use of the property as a short-term rental would be subject to any relevant council or public health approvals. Note that a new registration scheme is coming. Visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for more information.

What is changing?

A registration scheme for short-term accommodation providers is being considered by the State Government and subject to approval it could be put in place in 2021.
 
The proposal has come out of a working group involving a number of State Government agencies, such as Consumer Protection, in response to recommendations outlined in the 2019 Parliamentary Inquiry Levelling the Playing Field – Managing the impact of the rapid increase of Short-Term Rentals in Western Australia.
 
Online booking platforms and short-stay accommodation providers are being consulted. The Government is committed to supporting WA’s tourism industry, including short-stay accommodation providers, during the COVID-19 pandemic and future economic recovery. Any registration scheme would be flexible, simple and low-cost. Read the media statement and visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage for more information.
 
As regulator of WA’s real estate industry Consumer Protection will help to educate property professionals, homebuyers purchasing short-term rentals, and owners of short-term rentals about their obligations to guests. 
 

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