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Regulation of short-term rental accommodation in Queensland: what you need to know

3 min read
30 January 2023

Key Takeaways

  • In Queensland, short-term letting has a unique regulatory framework and various considerations that distinguish it from traditional residential tenancies.
  • Planning and zoning legislation, industry codes of conduct, by-laws in strata schemes and other contractual agreements such as leasing agreements and mortgages govern how short-term letting is regulated.
  • Owners who lease their properties short-term should be aware of the regulatory framework which applies.

Short-term letting involves the letting of either the whole or part of a residential property for a shorter period than a traditional residential tenancy. Given the growing popularity of online booking sites, owners should make themselves aware of the rules, and the legislative requirements which apply around short-term letting.

Legislation regulating short-term letting

Generally, short-term rental accommodation is excluded by the residential tenancy legislation enforced in each state or territory. The legislation relating to the letting of short-term accommodation varies according to the location of the property.

In Queensland, local councils can regulate short-term letting accommodation under local planning laws. The relevant town planning scheme will outline what uses are permitted in certain zones. For example, under the Brisbane City Plan the zones are Residential, Centre, Recreation, Environmental, and Industry. Short-term accommodation is primarily supported in centre zones or located near tourist, cultural or shopping and leisure facilities. 

There may also be specific controls within the relevant town planning scheme[1] which have been implemented by local council in relation to short-term letting accommodation. 

Development approval may need to be sought and obtained under Queensland planning legislation[2]. If this is the case, council will assess the development application against the short-term accommodation code (or similar provision) of the town planning scheme. Failure to apply with these approvals will constitute a development offence. 

Strata schemes 

The applicable strata legislation in Queensland is the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld) (‘BCCMA’) and its associated regulations. Bodies Corporate which fall under this legislation cannot: 

  1. restrict the type of residential use for a lot; or
  2. prevent an owner leasing their lot. 

These points have been considered judicially and the following has been confirmed: 

  1. short-term letting is a type of residential use and cannot be restricted or prohibited[3]; and
  2. there can be no level of restriction on leasing of a lot[4]

Use of by-laws to regulate or restrict the use of lots for short-term letting have been mentioned in judicial commentary. However, they are likely to be difficult to enforce. 

Conversely, body corporates regulated by the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 (Qld) can impose by-laws that restrict the use of a lot for short-term letting. This is because, unlike the limitations in section 180(3) of the BCCMA, this legislation does not contain a section limiting by-laws. 

Contractual Agreements 

Key agreements which may be in place over a property intended to be let short-term must be considered before any lease or licence arrangement is entered. These include mortgages, leases and insurance contracts. If any of these documents apply to the property, and the conditions or terms prohibit short-term letting or hosting, any arrangement entered into may place the owner (or the tenant) in breach. 

If you require our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us via email or call 07 3220 1144.

[1] For example, the Brisbane City Plan or Noosa Shire Council Subordinate Local Law No 1.

[2] Such as the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) and the Planning Regulation 2017 (Qld).

[3] Body Corporate for Hilton Park CTS 27490 v Robertson [2018] QCATA 168.

[4] Re First Avenue Mooloolaba [2011] QBCCMCmr 241.

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.

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