Knowledge

Airbnb Considerations in Brisbane

Rapid changes in information technology has afforded us with alternative opportunities to the way we reside in both short and long-term tenures that simply didn’t exist two decades ago. As a logical progression of this, both owner-occupiers and investors are considering Airbnb (and the like) as a means to achieve additional income from their PPR, or, as an alternative to long-term rental tenure respectively.

The allure of both of these options is quite enticing for many, particularly when the offering provides substantial flexibility and control to the landowner. However, before taking the leap into the sharing economy for your Brisbane property, there exist a number of regulatory and practical matters that ought to be considered and researched specific to your circumstances.

Town Planning Matters

For the vast majority of Brisbane’s jurisdiction, the Brisbane City Plan 2014 (‘Planning Scheme’) regulates land use permitting and development. Two common hosting scenarios are broadly considered under the Planning Scheme herein.

1. Permanent Resident of the Premises Hosting a Part of the Premises

The Planning Scheme defines a Home-Based Business as outlined below, noting that it includes a ‘Bed and Breakfast’:

Home-based business means the use of a dwelling or domestic outbuilding on premises for a business activity that is subordinate to the residential use of the premises.

Examples include: Bed and breakfast, home office, home-based child care.

In most circumstances, the level of assessment for a Home-Based Business located within a residential zone is Accepted Development subject to complying with Council’s identified codes. Accepted Development means a Development Permit for a Material Change of Use approval (town planning approval) is not required, subject to meeting the benchmarks within the applicable code/s. Where the benchmarks of the applicable code/s are not met for Accepted Development, the Material Change of Use becomes Assessable Development and town planning approval is required. Importantly, Council’s preference is for a bed and breakfast activity to be subordinate to the operation of the premises as a Dwelling, and guests cannot stay for greater than 14 consecutive nights.

2. Hosting of the Entire Premises with No Permanent Resident Residing in the Premises

The Planning Scheme Definition for a Home-Based Business does not apply in this circumstance. The land use is better described as Short-Term Accommodation, which is defined within the Planning Scheme as follows:

Short-term accommodation—

(a) means the use of premises for—

(i) providing accommodation of less than 3 consecutive months to tourists or travellers; or

(ii) a manager’s residence, office, or recreation facilities for the exclusive use of guests, if the use is ancillary to the use in subparagraph (i); but

(b) does not include a hotel, nature-based tourism, resort complex or tourist park.

Examples include: Motel, backpackers, cabins, serviced apartments, accommodation hotel, farm stay.

In most circumstances, Short -Term Accommodation will require town planning approval for a Material Change of Use and assessment against a number of Planning Scheme Codes. Generally speaking, Short-Term Accommodation is not preferred in the Low Density Residential Zone. The Medium and High Residential Zones anticipate Short-Term Accommodation, as does the Low-Medium Density Residential Zone where located adjacent to busy roads and services.

Land Owner’s Consent

Land owner’s consent is required to make a Material Change of Use development application. Where a body corporate exists, consent of the body corporate is required to make the development application which is potentially problematic. Many existing apartment and townhouse complexes will have an established body corporate, so buyer beware.

Insurance

‘Regular’ home and contents insurance may not cover the activities associated with hosting the premises through Airbnb (or the like) for a Dwelling House. It is probable that this issue becomes substantially more complicated when it is intended to use part of an existing residential apartment building (or the like) for Short-Term Accommodation.

The financial consequences for damages to the premises and others’ property and premises ought to be considered. Best to contact your insurer and be transparent about your proposed activities and circumstances before taking the plunge.

Body Corporate By-Laws

If you intend on hosting a premises subject to by-laws, it is prudent to have your solicitor review the by-laws and advise if there are any potential conflicts with the proposed activity.

Building Classification

The National Construction Code regulates building classes within Australia. Depending upon your circumstances, you may need to change the classification of the existing premises. A private certifier can assist you in understanding the requirements and process.

Property Management and Host Expectations

There exists an industry of property management firms with good reason – it is time consuming to manage a property, it requires solid relationships with respected tradespersons, and there is an expectation of brevity in response to enquiry from current and potential guests.

As a host, your role will be as an on-demand property manager. For some this is perfectly fine, however, for others this may not be congruent with other employment obligations and / or lifestyle considerations.

Concluding Remarks

It’s safe to say that prior to listing your premises on Airbnb or acquiring a property for that purpose, there a number of investigations that should be undertaken. For more information on town planning matters please contact Emmett Herps.