|2 May 2018
West Coast Mayor Phil Vickers said Council had been forced to implement detailed operational procedures to adapt to the State Government’s generous new policy regarding shared accommodation.
A report to the April Council meeting identified the specifics of how the West Coast Council is dealing operationally with the State Government’s new policy framework.
The report was in response to commercial operators on the West Coast raising questions through the Tourism Association regarding the ability for new entrants to the tourism accommodation market being able to compete unfairly.
“For example, shared accommodation is able to operate without having to meet standard commercial regulatory requirements including rates classification, insurance obligations and so on,” Mayor Vickers said.
“In effect, the State’s policy platform relies on self-reporting and self-assessment and shifts the onus onto local government to ‘police’ the changes.”
Mayor Vickers said the policy was originally being discussed in the context of limiting the number of days non-commercial residential premises could be rented out to tourists.
However, the final policy adopted did not place a restriction on this and instead provided for self-assessment under a range of scenarios, depending on the size of the premises involved.
“While this policy is far from perfect, it is a State Government policy and for them to amend if they wish,” Mayor Vickers said.
“Council has had to adapt to the current policy and has put in place specific operational processes to help address concerns raised by commercial accommodation operators on the West Coast.
“The main issues raised by disgruntled commercial accommodation providers were that some shared accommodation providers are now able to compete unfairly as they don’t have the same commercial regulatory requirements and insurance obligations for example.
“The reality is that Council does not have the resources or capability to police new entrants fully and to conduct detailed inspections of all accommodation providers.
“Council can certainly alert newcomers to the sector of their obligations by using existing Council resources and processes, and by introducing checklists and handling change of use applications, but the questions of whether the State policy is too generous and is setting up an unfair competitive environment still remain.”
Mayor Vickers said as Council did not have the option of subverting the State Government policy, it was up to them to make improvements if they think that is necessary.
“At the end of the day we are fairly limited in what we can do to resolve this situation at a local level and we are doing everything we can as a small Council to stay on top of the new requirements. I hope that the State Government takes on board this feedback,” Mayor Vickers said.