Parliament has set up an inquiry into short-stay accommodation. Picture: ShutterstockThe WA Labor and Liberal parties have joined forces to set up a parliamentary inquiry into regulation of the state’s short-stay accommodation industry.
Tension has erupted between owners of licensed short-stay businesses, such as hotels, serviced apartments and bed and breakfasts, and unlicensed, backyard operators who advertise through websites such as Airbnb.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the inquiry would aim for a bipartisan plan on the regulation of the industry.
The inquiry would look at issues such as customer safety, insurance, land use planning, building standards, stay length, neighbourhood amenity, registration, licensing and taxation.
Airbnb released a statement on Wednesday night welcoming the inquiry.
“We are now one step closer to having fair rules for home sharing in Western , just like there are in New South Wales, Tasmania and South ,” Airbnbpublic policy head Brent Thomas said.
“Our community has long argued the current rules for home sharing are out-of-date and acting as a handbrake on growth. The way people travel and use their homes has changed, and the rules should change as well.
“We will urge the inquiry to back the local families and small businesses who rely on Airbnb. The law should support what is good for voters – not vested interests.”
According to Airbnb, there are 11,500 properties listed in Western on their website, with 4000 in Perth.
On average, each property typically rakes in $6100 through Airbnb and leases out their accomodation for 34 nights on average.
Ms Saffioti said the government had been undertaking consultation on the rules regulating the industry and welcomed the decision by parliament’s Economics and Industry Standing Committee to set up the inquiry.
“I want to make sure that there is wide consultation and a bipartisan approach to reform in this industry,” she said.
“This inquiry is an opportunity to have a committee of the parliament test ideas with the industry and to report back to the parliament and then government.
“The government had been progressing work on this matter, including developing a range of options for the future. This process allows the work undertaken to be utilised by the committee and to make sure we have all the right information in front of us.”
Opposition tourism spokeswoman Libby Mettam backed the decision.
“The sector now includes operators ranging from people renting out their spare room to backpackers, to hotel chains and, as a result, the issues are complex,” she said.
“While there are outstanding issues where hotels and resorts are competing with operators without the same sort of compliance burdens, we also don’t want people who are renting out their back room to have prohibitive regulatory standards imposed on them.
“We need a fairer, more level playing field, which could mean either expanding the regulatory framework or making it easier for mainstream accommodation providers.
Ms Mettam said Airbnb was a fact of life around the world.
“It adds choice in the tourism sector and fills a gap in the market especially during special events and peak holiday periods in regional WA,” she said.
But local governments were not well enough resourced to regulate the industry.
“Leaving it to individual local governments would result in inconsistencies between regions and further complicate the issue,” she said.
“A statewide policy needs to at a minimum ensure appropriate health and safety and noise control measures.”