The State Government has opened a new policy for managing short-term rentals for community consultation. The measures, digging in on the thorny issue of unregistered accommodation amid a boom in people booking holiday stays online, follows the 2019 Parliamentary inquiry Levelling the Playing Field report into the rise of Airbnb and difficulties faced managing those holidaymakers by local governments. The new draft policy, announced by Planning Minister Rita Saffioti on Monday, offers local government guidelines on how to manage short stays within existing planning laws. It puts a cap on the number of nights a property can be rented before registration is required. As recommended by the report, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries was still investigating a possible new State-wide registration platform. “There has been a rapid growth in short-term rental accommodation providers throughout WA,” Ms Saffioti said. “Our Government is implementing initiatives to better manage the sector, to provide greater certainty to the tourism industry, accommodation providers and guests, and make sure property owners know what is expected of them. “We also want to ensure consistency across different local governments and help support them to better regulate and govern short-term accommodation providers within their area.” Shire of Augusta-Margaret River planning and regulatory services manager Matt Cuthbert urged all those affected by the change to make a submission. “The Shire supports the State Government in allowing local governments to continue to manage short-stay accommodation in a way which is locally appropriate,” he said. “A matter which requires close consideration is the suggested ‘exemption’ from the need to gain approval for holiday homes utilised less than 60 days per year.” Derek Nolan, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, said the system would reduce the amount of accommodation on offer, particularly at the affordable end. He said the reduced options — assuming not every accommodation provider would be pursued or approved by council — would lead to higher prices for customers. “Hosts across WA will be rightly concerned about their livelihoods and the fact that these new rules allow councils to suddenly and unilaterally introduce extremely heavy restrictions on a whim,” he said. “Guests across WA will also be worried about the major blow their family budgets will cop next time they look to holiday within their own State, given the way this proposal would restrict affordable, family friendly accommodation options.” But the Australian Hotels Association welcomed the proposal. AHA (WA) chief executive Bradley Woods said “proper regulation” was being adopted across the world to combat a rise in problems. He said jobs at registered hotels were under threat from the unlicensed competitors, and renters had been priced out of the market as homes were put on short-stay accommodation sites. “In the absence of any regulation, the explosion of short-stay properties has led to countless problems across WA,” Mr Woods said. “Community amenity has suffered through the rise of party-houses and illegal activity while unregulated short-stay properties have compounded the issue of housing affordability.” Public comment closes on March 7 next year via https://consultation.dplh.wa.gov.au.