Airbnb has changed the way holidays occur throughout the world. The basic principle is that Airbnb connects somebody with a property with a person who is looking for short term accommodation.
Airbnb and Australian law
There are no national Australian laws that currently regulate Airbnb and the relationships between parties. Depending on where you live, your owners corporation or body corporate rules, local council zoning or even Environmental Protection laws can restrict your ability to host paying guests for short periods. Some cities and councils may require you to be permitted or licenced before listing a property for short term use.
Lease agreement vs licence agreement
This only really becomes an issue if someone with a current residential tenancy agreement decides to list the property with Airbnb. In a recent Australian case, the Supreme Court decided that by letting the whole apartment on Airbnb, a tenant had entered into a sublease agreement. Even in this case the Supreme Court wasn’t dealing with the legality of Airbnb, only with the fact that the tenant failed to obtain their landlord’s consent to sublease.
Because Airbnb isn’t regulated, it is difficult for the Australian Tax Office to know that a financial agreement has been met between parties. It is important to note that it is a requirement to declare money earned from letting out your property for stays through Airbnb.
With such a wide range of State and Territory laws and local council zoning laws that can be applied, the likelihood of determining a set of laws to apply to Airbnb across Australia could be some time in the future. Until then, if you intend to let out an apartment, it is advisable to check your owners corporation/body corporate rules and any lease agreement to make sure you don’t find yourself in breach.
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