The national debate around short-term accommodation providers such as Airbnb heats up, with “comprehensive and effective regulations” proposed to protect licensed operators and jobs in Western Australia.

The WA Parliamentary report into short stay accommodation has proposed laws that will level the playing field and protect local jobs in the state’s licensed accommodation businesses.

Increasing tensions between licensed and unlicensed operators sparked the investigation by the Economics and Industry Standing Committee.

“Unfortunately, some short-term rental owners are not complying with the rules because they are unaware that they exist or they are actively trying to avoid regulation,” offered committee chair Jessica Shaw.

The report, released this morning, outlines the strongest and most effective proposed regulations of any Australian jurisdiction to date.

Highlights of the recommendations include implementation of a state-wide registration scheme, with requirement short-term rental services display valid registration numbers.

The service platforms should also be required to provide data on all properties listed in the State, feeding an information sharing mechanism between State and Local authorities.

It is estimated registration would affect at least 20,000 short-term rental properties that have come into existence in WA.

However, conditions of registration would be set at the local government level. The scheme aims to be a “light touch” that is further tuned locally according to local conditions. Registration may require less than half a dozen details.

But State government will assist with enforcement, with suggestion of penalties for non-compliance and management of consumer complaints.

The recommendations, slating implementation by June 2020, also included the contentious subject of supporting strata blocks wanting to ban short-stay provision.

Over 350 written stakeholder submissions were received by the committee, and AHA WA CEO Brad Woods endorses its findings, and “implore[s] WA parliamentarians” to back the state’s jobs and industry.

“This report is aptly named Levelling the Playing Field as for too long we have seen platforms like Airbnb compete directly with licensed accommodation providers, but did not face the same regulatory, taxation or fire and safety burdens.

“This report will be welcomed by not just WA accommodation providers, but by industry stakeholders and their employees across Australia. This provides policy makers with a road map of how to bring fairness to home sharing and how to protect vital Australian jobs.”

While the news in WA follows similar recommendations tabled in Tasmania, regulators in other states continue to struggle with the problem.

Despite announcing plans for regulatory reform of short-term accommodation mid-2018, the NSW Government is yet to release a draft policy. NSW Fair Trading suggests the government plans to publish its draft code of conduct in Q4 2019.

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