Holiday Home Review

During the Council Meeting on 9 June 2021, Council resolved to support some potential ‘Opportunities for Change’ to the current holiday home regulatory framework, and to consult with landowners, the community and stakeholders about these potential changes. 

A Directions Paper was developed to assist with the consultation, which provided a snapshot of how many holiday homes there were in the District and the associated issues.

Holiday Home Review Directions Paper

Minutes of Council - 9 June 2021

Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Community and stakeholder engagement took place over several sessions in August – September 2021, where the City sought feedback from the community on potential changes to the current Holiday Home Regulatory Review.

The City received 570 written submissions and the outcomes of the consultation are now available to be viewed in the report below.

2021 Consultation Outcomes Report

A Staged Approach to Change

Following consultation in 2021, Council resolved (23 March 2022 Council Meeting) to progress the Holiday Home Review in three separate stages:

Stage 1: Introduce changes to the Conditions of Registration that apply to all approved Holiday Homes, and introduce a Code of Conduct for occupants and their guests.

Stage 2: Initiate amendments to the City’s Holiday Home Local Law.

Stage 3: Initiate changes to the planning provisions in the City’s Local Planning Scheme and Holiday Home Local Planning Policy. This will occur once uncertainties around the State Government’s position on Holiday Homes have been resolved.

Stage 1 changes will be implemented when annual registration renewal letters are sent out. Key changes to the Conditions of Registration include:

  • Specifying the maximum number of occupants and their guests at the premises after 10pm (no more than the maximum number of occupants);
  • Rewording of the condition relating to removal of rubbish;
  • Requiring that the Code of Conduct be provided to occupants prior to occupation and displayed prominently at the premises;
  • Specifying the maximum number of vehicles that can be parked at the premises;
  • Requiring that the premises displays a sign, visible from the street, displaying a contact phone number for the manager;
  • Requiring that dogs must not be left unattended.

The Code of Conduct has been developed by the City in consultation with some of the local managing agencies, and this will be provided when annual renewal letters are sent out. It aims to create a consistent approach and expectation around how occupants of Holiday Homes should behave.

There will be a transitional period for owners to arrange signage, until the end of September 2022.

Minutes of Council - Wednesday 23 March 2022

Stage 1 FAQs

I own a Holiday Home. Would the new rules apply to me when I’m staying there?

For the purposes of the City’s Holiday Home Regulatory Framework, a dwelling is being used as a Holiday Home when a contract of hire is in place and a reward (payment) is provided. If the dwelling is being used for private and personal use only, and there is no commercial agreement in place, then it is not being used as a Holiday Home, and therefore the Conditions of Registration would not apply.

When do the new rules start?

The new rules, including the Conditions of Registration and Code of Conduct, start from the date of your new Certificate of Registration. This will be issued in coming weeks.

I have a lot of advance bookings. Do the new rules apply to bookings that were made prior to their commencement?

Yes, they do. You will need to inform all existing bookings of the new rules.

I already have a Code of Conduct. I would prefer to use my own rules rather than the City’s.

The City’s Holiday Home Local Law guides the management of Holiday Homes in the District. Every premises is required to have a nominated manager; and the owner, manager, and occupants are further required to comply with the Conditions of Registration.

The Code of Conduct stems directly from the City’s Holiday Home Local Law and Conditions of Registration. It outlines the occupant’s obligations in general terms, and provides a consistent approach and expectation around how occupants and their guests should behave.

This idea was advertised during the City’s Holiday Home consultation in 2021, receiving a high level of support - the peace and comfort of the local community is considered to be of equal importance to that of Holiday Home visitors.

The City met with four of the largest local management agencies to further discuss the idea. These managers, who are collectively responsible for approximately one third of all registered Holiday Homes in the District, have house rules already in place. All were supportive of the idea, commenting that the Code of Conduct would complement their own house rules.

The new rules suggest that any number of people can be at the Holiday Home before 10pm. Is this true?

No, this isn’t true. The Conditions of Registration address this in three different clauses:

  1. The conditions specify the maximum number of occupants who may be at the Holiday Home at any time – an “occupant” is defined in the City’s Holiday Home Local Law as a person who is “accommodated”.
  2. The conditions specify that the number of occupants and their guests who may be at the Holiday Home after 10pm is no more than the maximum number of occupants – a “guest” is defined in the City’s Holiday Home Local Law as a person who is at the Holiday Home for “social purposes” at the invitation of the occupant.
  3. The conditions require that any advertisement for the Holiday Home must specify the maximum number of occupants and guests permitted at any given time.

My neighbours already have my phone number, why do I have to put a sign up? I’ve never had any complaints and I’m concerned this will create a risk for my property.

Many complaints about Holiday Homes occur because neighbours and community members do not know who to contact when issues arise.

When the City investigated potential changes to improve the management of Holiday Homes, it was found that a number of local governments in WA and Australia more broadly require a sign, visible from the street, that displays contact details for the person managing the Holiday Home.

This idea was advertised during the City’s Holiday Home consultation in 2021, receiving a high level of support.

The City met with four of the largest local management agencies to further discuss the idea – all have erected signs at the properties they manage, and all were supportive of this change. According to these managers, who are collectively responsible for one third of all registered Holiday Homes in the District, they have never experienced security risks (break-ins) as a result of signage. If anything, it provides a form of advertising and brings more business. They did however mention that they receive a large volume of phone calls about properties that they don’t manage, and welcomed the prospect that calls would be directed to the appropriate person.

The requirement for all Holiday Homes to display the Manager’s details will result in a consistent approach in the District and broader Margaret River/Busselton tourism region.

Why can’t dogs be left unattended? Most of my guests want to bring their pet, and my property is secure.

The City understands that many families like to travel with pets. However some dogs are left on their own at the Holiday Home, being a place that they are unfamiliar with, and they can become distressed. Some bark or howl for long periods of time and this is often very upsetting for the neighbours who live permanently in the area.

This is one of the most frequent complaints received by the City, in relation to Holiday Homes. Due to the high turnover of visitors to a Holiday Home, and the fact that the visiting dogs are generally not registered to the property owner, the City is not able to work with owners and neighbours, as we normally would, to try and resolve the issue.

This idea was advertised during the City’s Holiday Home consultation in 2021, receiving a high level of support - the peace and comfort of the local community is considered to be of equal importance to that of visitors and their pets.

The City met with four of the largest local management agencies to further discuss the idea. These managers, who are collectively responsible for one third of all registered Holiday Homes in the District, have restrictions around dogs already. All were supportive of the idea.

I read in the media that managers might have to live 30 minutes away from a property. Is this true?

A number of different ‘opportunities for change’ were advertised during the 2021 consultation, although it is important to note that not all of these potential changes will be pursued by Council. The minutes of Council meetings document the full review process to date, and are freely available to the public. It is possible that the media or others have picked up on potential changes without being completely aware of what is/isn’t going to be implemented, and how, why and when.

The relevant Council meeting minutes are located here, although note that the revised Conditions of Registration and Code of Conduct were (at that time) in draft format. Both have had further, minor revisions and will be distributed with the annual registration renewal notices.

 

General FAQs

What exactly is a holiday home?

The term holiday home applies specifically to the exclusive use of a privately owned home (single house, unit, townhouse, apartment etc), for short-term accommodation, in return for hire or reward, and without another person living permanently in the home (‘un-hosted’). An approved holiday home could also be used for long-stay/permanent residential purposes.

What is the difference between a holiday home and a bed and breakfast?

A bed and breakfast involves the hiring out of bedrooms in a private home, and is required to be ‘hosted’ by a person living permanently in the home. By contrast, a holiday home means the exclusive use of the entire home, without a person or ‘host’ living there permanently.

Are all Airbnb properties holiday homes?

Not necessarily. Airbnb can include listings for entire homes including units or apartments, private rooms, and shared rooms (although shared rooms are not common in the City of Busselton). It is only the listings for entire homes that are classed as holiday homes, because they are not hosted. A listing for a private room within a home, where a person lives permanently in the home, is classed as a bed and breakfast.

When did holiday homes start to pop up in the City of Busselton?

Holiday homes have been occurring in the City of Busselton, and in many other places in Western Australia, for many decades. These were often little beachside ‘shacks’ and the owners and their family and/or friends would come for holidays as time permitted.

How many holiday homes are there in the City of Busselton today?

At the start of July 2021, there were 969 registered holiday homes in the whole District. Some holiday homes may not be registered because they’re not hired out – they’re used only by the owners of the property, or their family and friends. These privately used homes don’t require registration because they are for private and personal use only. Others might not be for private or personal use – i.e. they’re being hired out – and are not registered. These properties are operating illegally.

What does the City do about illegal holiday homes?

Every three months the City receives a report from a company that tracks online holiday home listings (BnbGuard) and these are compared with the City’s list of registered properties. If an unregistered home is detected, then the property owners are contacted and advised that they must apply for development and registration approval for the use of the property as a holiday home.

What are some of the problems with holiday homes?

Some of the regular complaints received by the City include:

  • Properties that aren’t registered but it appears they are being hired out.
  • Too many occupants and/or guests of those occupants.
  • Too many vehicles, causing issues for surrounding properties.
  • Antisocial behaviour, for example too much noise, littering, trespassing into nearby properties.
  • Waste management, for example overflowing bins or bins being left out in the street for days.
  • Unattended dogs who are not familiar with the property becoming distressed (barking).

What are some of the good things about holiday homes?

  • They provide an alternate and sometimes more affordable type of accommodation for tourists and other visitors to the region. Some of these tourists may not visit the region without holiday home options.
  • They provide an income for some people who may not have other income stream options.

What are the City’s current rules for approving holiday homes?

Currently, there are two major steps for a holiday home to able to operate.

  1. Development approval. This is guided by the City’s Local Planning Scheme, and the Holiday Home Local Planning Policy. A development approval is valid “for the life of the property.”
  2. Registration approval. This is guided by the Holiday Home Local Law, and can only be granted if development approval has first been received. A registration must be renewed every 12 months, and is automatically cancelled if a property is sold. New owners can apply for a new registration approval, without also needing to re-apply for development approval.

When was the City’s holiday home ‘framework of rules’ developed?

Rules for holiday homes were first discussed by Council as early as 2002, when an amendment to Town Planning Scheme No. 20 was drafted. Holiday homes were however becoming a broader issue in Western Australia, and the Minister for Planning at the time required Council to make some changes to the Scheme amendment. Council decided that a more rigorous set of rules were required, and a Local law and Local Planning Policy were also developed. The entire ‘framework of rules’ was eventually approved late in 2012.

I have lodged an application for a holiday home – how will it be affected by the review?

Right now, and all through the first consultation period, it’s business as usual - your application will be assessed under the current set of rules.

 

Related Information

Holiday Home Local Law

Local Planning Scheme No. 21

Local Planning Policy 4.1 - Holiday Homes

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