A landmark legal decision, the first of its kind in Queensland, will uphold a ban on Airbnbs in certain strata title complexes in Queensland.
The ban on subletting property website Airbnb at Fairway Island, a 85-lot resort, marks the end of a two-year legal battle between two property owners looking to list their homes as short-term rentals in its complex.
The Southport Magistrates Court overturned an earlier ruling by the Body Corporate Commissioner, entitling homeowners—Gary Redman and Andrew Murray—to let out their properties.
The new by-law, banning short-term letting or Airbnb within the Gold Coast community, remains ground-breaking, yet won't impact all developments or apartment buildings.
The court found that the Gold Coast resort's body corporate was correct to impose an Airbnb ban because it had more power under the Building Units and Group Titles Act.
Under the BCCMA Bodies Corporate are restricted in terms of which by-laws can be applied to owners.
Specifically, under the BCCMA a by-law cannot restrict the type of residential use, or discriminate between different types of occupiers, meaning those using apartments or units as Airbnbs can continue doing so, as long as they are governed by the BCCMA.
Most body corporates are governed by the Body Corporate and Community Management Act, which has tougher restrictions on committees.
While there are currently more than 50,000 Bodies Corporate in Queensland the decision will only apply to about 200 body corporates.
Online accommodation giant Airbnb is also facing an Australian Tax Office (ATO) crackdown on homeowners who aren’t declaring earnings.
The prospect of new costly regulations, with the proposed imposition of compulsory short-term letting registries in NSW and WA, will call for stricter verification across accuracy of listings and quality standards.
The ATO identified a $9 billion shortfall in holiday let revenue and is now monitoring a number of short-term letting websites, as well as using information from letting agencies to identify holiday let hosts.
The San Francisco-based company has also pledged to review the 7 million properties on its global platform by December 2020.
The new standards came after media reports in the US of scams taking advantage of users and after five people were killed in a shooting at an unauthorised party held at an Airbnb rental in Orina, California, on Halloween.
Properties that pass the test will be labelled as approved accommodation when users search the Airbnb platform.