It has been widely publicised that the WA property market is experiencing a rental shortage. This presents a potentially golden opportunity for property owners to earn some extra income through short term rental accommodation, whether it be by offering up the granny flat or a spare room in the house for rent, a holiday home or an investment property. However, before you dive in and list your place, below is a handy checklist of tips and requirements you need to be aware of.
1. Contact your local council
Although the state government is in the process of assessing the regulations for short term renting in WA with a view to introducing a flexible, low cost registration scheme in the future, the rules are currently still governed by local councils. With different rules in place from one council to the next, it is recommended that you call your local council to ask the following:
- Do you need a council application, planning permit or registration?
- Are there any minimum stay period or limits on renters?
- Are there any safety and signage requirements?
- What are the policies for amenities such as parking and rubbish collection, pet restrictions, noise limits and anti-social behaviour?
- What rules might apply to a strata property, as some are not allowed to be used as short-term rentals?
To find out about the planned registration scheme for short-term rentals in WA, visit the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website.
2. Choose your platform
As is the case with any investment or real estate decision, it’s important to do your research to find the online short stay accommodation provider that is the best fit for you. The most popular platforms are Airbnb, Stayz, HomeAway and FlipKey. Look at each one and read through their terms and conditions to learn about the fees, insurances and benefits. Scrutinise the fine print carefully before making a decision.
Assess your property for risks and safety hazards before listing it. Secure items that might pose a trip hazard, ensure pools and spas are secure with compliant fencing and signage in place, and check blinds and curtain cords for potential choking hazards. It’s a good idea to put together an emergency procedure plan in case of fire or a natural disaster.
4. Ensure you are covered
Check if your online booking platform offers insurance (some do, some don’t) and, if they do, read through what it covers. Standard home or landlord’s insurance may not be sufficient for short term rental accommodation as it may not cover you for things like theft, damage or public liability. The Insurance Council of Australia has a great tool for finding short-term holiday renting policies.
5. Consider the tax implications
Remember that any money you earn from short term rental accommodation is considered taxable income and must be declared in your annual tax return. You may also be able to claim some deductions. Speak to your accountant or head to the ATO website to learn more.
6. Make sure your advertising is true and correct
Once you have decided to go ahead, you will need to advertise your property. In doing so, remember that, under Australian Consumer Law, if you lease out a room or property on a regular basis, you are considered a trader and your guests are consumers. As a trader, it is unlawful to mislead consumers. Be accurate and transparent about your offering. If you have to climb on a chair to see the ocean, don’t advertise it as having ocean views etc. Include all relevant details and information.
Last but not least, if you are looking to buy a property for the purpose of turning it into a short term rental property, ask if has ever been used for this purpose and, if so, what approvals are already in place. And if you’re selling a property that you rent out for short term rental, mention it to your selling agent as it could be a drawcard for some buyers and therefore should be included in the marketing.
For more information, head to the Short Term Rental Accommodation section of the WA Consumer Protection website.