Have your say... Letters to the editor

Dear LG Focus,
Before I was elected to Council, I thought about running a short-stay accommodation business in Cottesloe, Western Australia.

Being worried about the potential for voiding applicable insurances, I read the Local Planning Scheme to find that short-term accommodation use is prohibited in residential zones but Bed & Breakfast is a permissible use (needs approval).

I received my B&B approval subject to compliance with Class 1b building requirements. The B&B use had changed my building from a Building Code Class 1a (residential house) to a 1b (boarding house).

Many disappointed research hours discovered I was exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standards because the Disability Commissioner had exempted short-stay accommodation in residential homes offering less than five bedrooms. However, the new mandatory Building Code disability access standards meant I needed a lift and bathroom conversions. It was suggested that I do what “everyone else does” – just start my business. I knew of the Insurance Council warnings. Further, operating unlawfully did not sit well with me.

Short-stay is said to be to hotels what uber is to taxis. It is here for the long stay. It can be a retirement interest, and/or an economic boon to local economies. Short-stay must be regulated to minimise adverse impacts on residential amenity. However, the current legislative regime is so prohibitive or onerous, that the inclination to operate a short-stay business without approval is highly tempting.

This leads to unregulated businesses operating in residential areas, see for example Cottesloe (where it is prohibited or permissible) and its environs on websites such as Airbnb(300 listings) and Stayz(33 listings).

The New South Wales and Western Australian parliamentary inquiries into short-stay small businesses are timely and welcome. I look forward to exemptions in WA anticipated by the Disability Commissioner and regulation that facilitates short-stay businesses while carefully protecting residential amenity.

Please contact sandraboulter@westnet.com.au to request a full version of this opinion.

Kind Regards,
Councillor Sandra Boulter

Town of Cottesloe, representing my own views