Airbnb and Short Term Rental Accommodation

The short-term rental of the family home, unit or an investment property can be a valuable source of additional income. Airbnb is one of the many online platforms that enables people to tap into the sharing economy. Whitsunday Regional Council values the complementary role that a range of temporary accommodation options can play in the support of tourism in the Whitsundays. The below information outlines the requirements for someone wishing to commence the short-term rental of their home, unit or investment property.

How does Council regulate Airbnb and short-term rental accommodation? 

The Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme 2017 (the Scheme) has provisions for all types of accommodation and requires the assessment of a proposal to consider the potential impacts of the immediate neighbourhood.

Do I need approval from Council?

Home based business

Where the permanent resident of the dwelling house or unit resides in the dwelling or unit whilst renting part of it out for short-term rental, the use is defined as a Home based business provided that the function and scale of the short-term rental is subordinate to the primary use of the premises as a private permanent residence.

A Home based business does not require approval from Council in residential zones where complying with all of the following criteria:

  • The use is conducted from a dwelling house, within the main dwelling;
  • No more than three private bedrooms are used for guest accommodation;
  • No more than six guests are accommodated at any one time;
  • Guests stay no more than 14 consecutive nights;
  • Guests have access to a separate bathroom and toilet facility to the residents; and
  • A minimum of one parking space must be provided per guest bedroom.

Where not complying with these requirements, a development application to Council is required.

Note: Please consult the Home based business code for the acceptable outcomes.

Short-term accommodation

Where the owner/long term tenant of the dwelling or unit does not reside in the dwelling or unit and rents out all or part of the dwelling or unit for short-term rental, typically not exceeding three consecutive months, the use is defined as Short-term accommodation.

Short-term accommodation requires approval from Council in all zones and in some zones, the application will need to be publicly notified. 

How do I obtain approval from Council?

To obtain a development permit for an assessable Home based business or Short-term accommodation, a development application for a Material Change of Use needs to be lodged with Council electronically, in person, via post or email.

The following information is required when making a development application:

  • DA Form 1
  • Owners consent (if not the owner applying)
  • Payment of the application fee (a one-off fee);
      - Home based business - $922.00;
      - Short-term accommodation - $4,200.00*;
  • Assessment against applicable codes of the planning scheme; and
  • Locality and proposal plans.

*Council has resolved to apply the following discount period:

  • 1 October 2018 - 31 December 2018: $1,055.00 (75% reduction).
  • 1 January 2019 - 31 March 2019: $2,110.00 (50% reduction).
  • 1 April 2019 - 30 June 2019: $3,165.00 (25% reduction).

For more information on application lodgement methods and requirements (such as application forms and relevant supporting information e.g. plans) visit Council’s Development Assessment page here.

Development permit conditions 

Successfully gaining a development approval from Council will require the applicant to ensure the use of the premises is conducted in accordance with conditions of approval imposed by Council. These conditions may include:

  • The permitted hours for outdoor entertaining;
  • Minimum number of car parking;
  • Maximum numbers of guests permitted;
  • Record keeping for the number of guests and nights accommodated; and
  • Signage displaying operators details and contact number.
Do I need any other approvals?

Additional approvals may be required before a proposed use can lawfully commence. Development permits for building work, operational works (e.g. excavation and filling, placing an advertising device on premises) or plumbing and drainage work may be required.

Other licences, for example a Food and Accommodation Licence may be required. Please contact Council to determine if other approval and/or licences are required.

Additional considerations 

All existing and potential short-term rental providers are encouraged to check with their insurance providers, lease agreements, and body corporate rules in addition to checking and making the appropriate applications with Council.

Need further information?

For further specific information on Home based business or Short-term accommodation contact Council’s planning department on 4945 0651 or lodge your enquiry via

Council offers easy to use Online Planning Services and FAQ’s and Education Material which enables 24-hour access to planning and development information, including online mapping.

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