Private accommodation set for change

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Airbnb host Wendy Dixon was shocked to find out there was no regulations in the City of Bunbury for short-stay accommodation.
Camera IconAirbnb host Wendy Dixon was shocked to find out there was no regulations in the City of Bunbury for short-stay accommodation. Credit: Zoe Keenan

Properties listed on Airbnb’s website in the South West could be set for a massive shake-up after recommendations to regulate the industry came out of a parliamentary inquiry.

This month the Economics and Industry Standing Committee tabled its report from the findings in the short-stay accommodation inquiry.

The rise in popularity of the cheaper holiday accommodation option has long sparked concerns in the traditional accommodation industry, which must comply with strict regulations and pay operating fees that short-stay accommodation providers such as Airbnb do not incur.

The inquiry found that registration would solve many problems associated with short-term rentals and help “level the uneven playing field”.

A number of Airbnb hosts who submitted to the inquiry believed in “the right of people to share their houses and apartments … without extreme regulations”.

HomeStay WA also submitted that “costly registration fees and regulation requirements, will result in most holiday homes leaving the market” resulting in the loss of the additional option used by many holidaymakers.

But a Bunbury Airbnb host was shocked to learn there were no regulations for short-stay accommodation in the regional city.

Wendy Dixon started renting out her three-by-two house in April this year.

She assumed there would be a fee or registration involved and called the City of Bunbury for advice.

“I was basically told it was at the mercy of my neighbours and whether or not they complain … we haven’t had negative feedback,” she said.

“But as small business owners we wanted to do the right thing and be transparent.”

Mrs Dixon said she heard stories of Airbnb hosts operating in secret and believed the industry should be regulated to maintain transparency.

She said they were willing to pay any fees required, as was normally expected of small businesses, but it should not be so excessive that it pushes Airbnb hosts out of business.

“It’s good for the city and interesting having different short-stay accommodation options,” she said.

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