Last Updated: 01/12/2022
- Intro: Opening an Airbnb on the Gold Coast
- Knowing your legal obligations as a Host
- Body Corporate and Council Regulations for short term rental accommodation on the Gold Coast
- Part 1: Strata Management and Community Titles Schemes
- Part 2: Operating a bed and breakfast as a home-based business on the Gold Coast
- What is defined as a home-based business on the Gold Coast?
- Explained: Code Criteria for Operating an Airbnb as a home-based Business on the Gold Coast
- PART A – Accepted Development Subject To Requirements
- Do I need a home-based business permit?
- Do I need planning approval for Airbnb on the Gold Coast?
- When do you need to submit a development application for a bed and breakfast on the Gold Coast?
- How to check your zoning for a development application on the Gold Coast
- How much does a development application for a bed and breakfast cost on the Gold Coast?
- Do I need a short-term rental accommodation license to open an Airbnb on the Gold Coast?
- Do I need any certificates of inspection?
- Do yourself a favour: Hire a Co-Host to make your life easier.
Sun, Sand & BNB Profits
Figures prior to the slowdown caused by COVID-19 saw an estimated 5-6 million annual visitors to the Gold Coast per year, and they all needed a place to be their holiday home.
This has caused the Gold Coast to become one of Australia’s hottest Airbnb markets, with a huge amount of short-term rental properties being set up to capitalise on the tourism industry.
Read on to find out how to get started with your own short term rental accommodation business on the Gold Coast.
Problem: The Regulations Are Strict
As we all know, too much of a good thing can spoil it.
As more homeowners and investors became hosts, there was a proportionate rise in the number of issues faced by local residents.
Over time there have been numerous stories published in the media of battles between residents and the council around Gold Coast party houses which were continuously noisy and, understandably, made local residents rather un-fond of their Airbnb neighbours.
On the whole, local governments are concerned with preserving the amenity and liveability of an area for local residents, with regulations generally being designed to support those objectives.
It has even lead to the Gold Coast City Council creating the Party House Code in the City Plan, which has some rather strict requirements. We’re not sure who would want to own a party house, except for the very brave!
Nevertheless, the Gold Coast has been and will certainly continue to be an Airbnb hotspot, and for good reason.
The numbers visitor numbers are there to support many operators, and the unique personality of the Gold Coast simply cannot be replicated.
The Gold Coast is BOOMING
Fuel has met fire and the market is hot!
The whole of South East Queensland is booming as Australians from the southern states move north to change their lifestyle.
This has seen the average Gold Coast house price jump around 22% from July 2020 to July 2021.
The average has also hit $887,000, which is up 18.2% compared to 2020.
On top of that, over a 250,000 people are predicted to move to Queensland in the next four years, while other forecasts predict 5 million people will move to SEQ by the middle of the next decade.
Then, when we factor in that the Olympics are coming to Queensland in 2032, you can see why now is a good time to get set up as a Host.
All of this translates to one big thing – massive demand for properties.
This is a clear signal to plan your action. Don’t rush into a hot market and buy the first thing, but the aspiring host should certainly make a plan to purchase before prices become unattainable.
Read on and we’ll help you get started.
Knowing your Legal Obligations as a Host
No matter what your chosen platform, whether it’s Airbnb, new Airbnb alternative VRBO, Stayz, booking.com, or your own custom short-term rental booking website, as a host you need to make sure you comply with the local laws and regulations.
It goes without saying that you don’t want to leave yourself legally exposed, which can bring penalties such as fines and a “show cause” notices. A Notice To Show Cause is a legal document that can severely interrupt your business and stop you from operating entirely. Usually you will be given a period of time to either get your approval, or be forced to stop operating.
It may also make getting development application approval and rental accommodation license further down the track harder than it needs to be. It is also better to err on the side of compliance in the aims of maintaining a good reputation.
Keeping up-to-date with changes is also super important. For example, NSW is introducing the mandatory registration of short-term rental accommodation, which may be a glimpse into the future for other states.
Of course these regulations vary from location to location, so we’ll be writing more about each of the locations, and any changes that occur, right here on the HoliHome Blog.
But for right now, you simply need to worry about your position in regards to the Gold Coast City Council’s regulations.
Body Corporate and Council Regulations for short term rental accommodation on the Gold Coast
OK, here’s the facts. The Gold Coast has been reported to have some of the toughest Airbnb and other short-term rental accommodation regulations in Queensland and Australia.
But the good news is that while these regulations are reported to be rather draconian, they are actually quite standard in comparison to other areas in Australia.
For example, they’re much the same as the Council rules and regulations for short term rental accommocation in Brisbane, but with some key differences.
There are two main factors you will need to consider in regards to starting your short term rental:
- Whether your property is within a community title scheme with a strata management arrangement, and what legal complications this may have, and;
- The Gold Coast City Council local laws and regulations for short term rental accommodation, town planning and development.
We cover everything in more detail below. Read on for more!
Part 1: Strata Management and Community Titles Schemes
Whenever a property is within a community title scheme, it’s owners are required to abide by the by-laws of the body corporate.
Generally, these rules are designed to maintain the amenity of the area for the residents by limiting certain kinds of behaviours, which may be adversely impacted if these rules were not in existence.
Queensland law allows for a property that is able to be used as a place of residence to be used for residential purposes, and does not define or limit what particular kind of residential use that might be. As such body corporate by-laws in Queensland cannot restrict the manner of residential use.
So, if your property is located within a strata arrangement that is governed using the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCMA), which is the most common in Queensland today, then you are legally able to use your property as you see fit.
The BCCMA legislation states that residential properties may be used for residential purposes, and thereby body corporate by-laws have no power to restrict what type of residential use this might be.
However, 2019 saw a court hand down a decision in the case of Fairway Island GTP v Redman and Murray  QMC 13, which saw an appeal being upheld to block the use of properties located within Hope Island’s Fairaway community for short-term rental accommodation.
The Fairway Island body corporate within Hope Island Resort remains is governed by the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 (Qld) (BUGTA), which gives a body corporate greater power to restrict how a lot within a strata community is used.
The good news is the BUGTA legislation only accounts for a shrinking percentage of body corporates in Queensland.
If your Airbnb is located within a strata arrangement, you need to know which particular piece of legislation your body corporates is governed by, which will let you know how to proceed with your short term rental plans.
If you’re in doubt, always consult a good lawyer.
Generally, older body corporates that were formed before the BCCMA legislation may use the older BUGTA legislation, but this may not always be the case.
To be sure, you can contact your body corporate secretary or the Queensland Lands Registry Office on 1300 255 750.
Always keep in mind that the by-laws are still in effect and the body corporate can still issue breaches. In fact, they are likely to do so if they do not agree with your Airbnb activities.
You also need to make sure your guests abide with the by-laws to avoid breaches and potential fines.
Vetting your guests is extremely important, as is taking security deposits.
We suggest making your expectations and rules clear in your pre-booking communications, house rules and welcome booklet. We’ll be writing more about how to create your own Airbnb house rules soon.
We’ll keep this page updated with any changes.
But for now – if your Airbnb is in a strata arrangement, you are likely to be able to operate, but it is best to find out what you can or can’t do first, before committing any time, energy, or capital.
A sundrenched shot of Surfers Paradise from Main beach – taken by photographer Nathan Cowley.
Part 2: Operating a bed and breakfast as a home-based business on the Gold Coast
Essentially, you must fit into the two options for being allowed to operate a short-term rental accommodation business from a residential property on the Gold Coast.
- Your operation fits into the criteria as defined by a home-based business.
- You have submitted a development application and received planning approval.
Now, a quick disclaimer – we’re not town planners, so we suggest you consult with one if you are still unsure on how to proceed.
What is defined as a home-based business on the Gold Coast?
As defined by the Gold Coast City Council in Schedule 1 Use Definitions section of the City Plan, a home-based business is:
“The use of a dwelling or domestic outbuilding on premises for a business activity that is subordinate to the residential use of the premises.
Bed and breakfast, home office, home based child care
Does not include the following examples:
Hobby, office, shop, warehouse, transport depot, medium impact industry, high impact industry, special industry, brothel, repairing and servicing motor vehicles.”
As you will see in the screenshot below, and in the above text, a bed and breakfast is the first example included in the list.
You can find the definition on this page – Schedule 1 Definitions / SC1.1 Use definitions
So, given that a bed and breakfast is an example of a home-based business, then we can see that it is allowed with conditions.
As we can see, the above screen shot is the exact defintion of a home-based business according to the Gold Coast City Council’s City Plan, which lists bed and breakfast as the first example.
Explained: Code Criteria for Operating an Airbnb as a home-based Business on the Gold Coast
We’ll now discuss the criteria as listed in the City Plan’s use codes, and in particular section 9.3.1 Bed and Breakfast and Farm Stay Code.
This code is for operating your bed and breakfast as a home-based business, as well as to assess material change of use development applications. To quote the Gold Coast City Counci:
“This code applies to assessing material change of use for development for bed and breakfast (Home based business) and farm stay (Short-term accommodation) where indicated within Part 5 Tables of assessment. For the purposes of this code, bed and breakfasts and farm stays are referred to as guest accommodation.”
Part A of the code is used for accepted development subject to requirements, while Part B is for assessing development applications.
PART A – Accepted Development Subject To Requirements
Below we explain part A of the Bed and Breakfast and Farm Stay Code for short term rental accommodation hosts who want to operate their Airbnb (or other platform) as a home-based business on the Gold Coast.
If your bed and breakfast operation can fit or already fits into these self-assessable criteria, then you can run your Airbnb as a home-based business.
1. You must live at the property.
This is pretty self-explanatory. You must be a permanent resident and this property must be considered your main residence.
The reason for this is that the home-based business must be considered to be the secondary use of the lot, not the primary use. Therefore it must be primarily your place of residence.
This means investors who have purchased this property to use solely for bed and breakfast operations are out of luck, and must apply for development approval with a material change of use.
So, the bottom line is that, if you’re not living at the property, and it’s an investment or just your holiday house, then you will need to submit a development application and get full planning approval for your Airbnb.
2. The amount of space used by the home-based business must not exceed a total of 50m2.
Interestingly, we’ve noticed that the Home-based Business Code states that a home-based business is not allowed to exceed 45m2, while a bed and breakfast is listed as 50m2 in the Bed and Breakfast and Farm Stay Use Code.
So, this means that you could rent out that spare bedroom provided it is restricted from the resident and is used exclusively by the guest. You can also share the rest of the house provided you stay under these particular size limits for the rented space that the guest occupies.
As far as the code states, there are no specific requirements about the rented space being attached to the sleeping quarters of the Host. The Host just needs to be a resident on the premises.
You can rent out your detached dwelling like a granny flat, or you might choose to stay in the granny flat while renting out the main house, but you have to keep an eye on that 50m2 total.
3. Your property must be located in a residential zone.
Zoning is a huge part of town planning and development approval.
To check your property’s zoning, visit the Gold Coast City Council’s interactive City Plan map, and add the zoning overlay to it.
Lots used for home-based businesses are required to be within a zone that is permitted to be used for residential purposes. Any other zoning will require a development application.
When checking your zoning, be sure to check all of the zoning overlays that apply to your lot. There are a number that may limit your ability to operate a home-based business or to develop your lot.
This is the bread and butter of a good Gold Coast town planner, so don’t be afraid to reach out to one for some quick advice.
4. Check-in and check-out times are restricted.
This means no check-in or check-out activities between the hours of 10PM at night to 6AM the next morning. Check-in and check-out is permitted between the hours of 6AM to 10PM.
5. Guest accommodation must look like a regular house.
Any dwelling used for accommodation must look like a ‘normal’ dwelling. This means it will need to be of a similar design to the main house and be constructed of similar materials.
So, if you are planning on starting a glamping venue with a handful of canvas tents, or want to build a series of spaceship themed cabins, then you will need to submit a development application. Good luck!
6. You may only have a maximum of four guests at any one time.
This is to stop parties and noise while maintaining the amenity of the area. So, no more than four guests at any one time, including children.
You may stipulate this in your house rules, and this can be grounds to cancel an Airbnb booking for unregistered guests. Do not be afraid to use this to protect yourself!
If you opt to host more than four guests, you will need to get planning permission for your Airbnb. Additionally, you will need to obtain a short-term rental accommodation license from the Gold Coast City Council.
7. The use of the premises for guest accommodation does not compromise it’s use as a dwelling.
Essentially, this means you still need to be able to live in the property while you have a guest.
For example, if you had a one-bedroom studio apartment, you wouldn’t be able to rent out the whole studio if you had no other place to stay. Airbnb also doesn’t allow renting a single bed, either.
This means that you need at least a 2 bedroom property.
8. A restriction in the number of non-guest visitors and deliveries.
Home-based businesses are only allowed 1 delivery per day, and up to 6 visitors. The way visitors park must also be managed to avoid causing interruption to your neighbours and increasing street traffic.
9. A limit of 1 non-resident employee on premises at all times.
This has implications for your cleaning and maintenance services, so it’s important to schedule these at opportune times and avoid them overlapping whenever possible.
10. The operation must not affect the amenity of the area.
Most importantly, your home-based business must not negatively impact the amenity of the area for whatever the surrounding lots use it for.
So, if your neighbours are using their lots for purely residential purposes, your Airbnb can’t be found to cause them any nuisance.
Noise is the number one concern, so loud music and parties are not allowed. Airbnb also has its own rules against parties and gatherings. We suggest you exercise your right to cancel bookings and avoid any noise-creating activities.
Other considerations are odour and any other considerations, like privacy or anything else that your neighbours may reasonably consider to be infringing on their use of their lot.
Our advice is to think ahead here, set proper rules, create privacy for your guests, and make friends with your neighbours.
Do I need a home-based business permit?
In short – no you don’t, provided you meet the requirements of home-based business outlined above.
But you do need to get your Rental Accommodation license, which we talk about below.
We love this photo by the very talented photographer Cassidy Muir! A perfect juxtaposition of city meets sea.
Do I need council approval for Airbnb on the Gold Coast?
This all depends on your circumstances.
Understanding whether or not you need to submit a development application for a material change of use and receive full planning approval for your Airbnb is one of the first steps you should take.
Unfortunately, the Gold Coast City Council has chosen to put a ban on Airbnb operations that they deem as being ‘unlawful’, which means they satisfy the criteria of needing development application approval, which we discussed above, but have not been granted this approval.
When do you need to submit a development application for a bed and breakfast on the Gold Coast?
There are 2 main factors that will require you to submit a development application and get council approval for your Airbnb with a material change of use.
- If you are not living on the same premises of your bed and breakfast, and is intended to be a business or an investment, then you can’t operate under the home-based business guidelines.
- If your location is within a zone that automatically requires planning approval.
So, if you are planning to start an Airbnb that does not fit into the home-based business criteria, or do not live on the property, then you will definitely need to submit a material change of use development application with the Gold Coast City Council.
Unfortunately, this usually leaves investors and companies out of luck, even though it does provide a small advantage for smaller Hosts.
If you need to submit a development application and get council approval for your Airbnb, then your application will be assessed against the criteria set out in PART B – ASSESSABLE DEVELOPMENT BENCHMARKS of section 9.2.1 Bed And Breakfast and Farm Stay Code in the City Plan.
It is worth understanding these criteria and how they can impact your plans for your business.
Depending on the nature of your business, there may be other criteria that your development application is subject to, which will depend on zoning, city plans, map overlays, and other planning considerations.
The purpose of assessing your development application is to minimise the impact on the nearby area for other residents and business owners by maintaining the amenity of the area. So, always keep this in mind when strategising and planning ahead.
How to check your zoning for a development application on the Gold Coast
- Visit the interactive Gold Coast City Plan | Interactive Mapping
- Search for your property’s address in the top search box.
- On the left, select the Zones tab, and click on the check box.
- Click on the little + symbol next to the word ‘Zone’ to expand the map legend.
Then, head back to the City Plan and read about your Zone’s code –
Or you can click on section 6.2 Zones in the left menu.
How much does a development application for a bed and breakfast cost on the Gold Coast?
Make sure you’re sitting down for this one!
The Gold Coast City Council fee for a material change of use development application is scaled with inflation every year. Impact accessible applications cost $8,495, and Code accessible applications cost $6,373. Wow!
This does not include town planning and report fees, which you can easily budget another $5,000-$10,000 for, depending on the complexity of the plan and the pricing you receive. If you are planning on building you may also need architects plans, as well as other specialist plans for your site, noise, water, and others. It can quickly add up.
So, if you are simply wanting to start your own Airbnb at home, then you might be far better off fitting your business operation into the home-based business criteria.
However, if you need to invest the money to create a fully approved accommodation business, then the small up-front investment might be worth it. Ultimately, it depends on your circumstances and forward plan.
You can find the on this page – Gold Coast City Council’s register of fees and up-to-date pricing.
Do I need a rental accommodation license to open an Airbnb on the Gold Coast?
Yes, you will need to get your Accommodation License from the Gold Coast City Council if you are planning to operate a bed and breakfast as a home-based business.
This license ensures proprietors comply with the Subordinate Local Law 16.1 (Rental Accommodation) 2008.
There is an extensive list of license conditions, as well as prescribed criteria for accommodation standards.
We recommend that all hosts read the full document to make sure you comply with all of these conditions before you apply for your license.
You can find it here – Subordinate Local Law 16.1 (Rental Accommodation) 2008.
The following are some examples of the prescribed critiera and license conditons –
- Adhere to the allowed limits for the total number of guests on the premises or in part of the premises.
- Organise and carry out any building work or modifications during allowed hours.
- Provide adequate clean drinking, hot and cold water.
- Make sure the premises are in a good state of repair, are regularly maintained, and are sanitary.
- That the facilities are pest free and do not provide any living potential for pests.
- Make sure the grounds are safe and tidy.
- Make sure facilities, equipment and furniture are provided and maintained, safe and sanitary.
- Maintain a high standard of cleanliness, whereby the premises are cleaned after every use.
- Ensure internal and external paintwork is maintained.
- Ensure animlals, other than guide dogs, are not kept in any area used by a guest.
- Provide is sufficient lighting, ventilation, and safe access.
- Compliance with sanitary and grey water requirements.
- Ensures there is a sufficient level of safety.
- Ensures sheets are changed after every set of guests, or at least weekly.
- Ensures there is sufficient furniture.
- Ensures all towels are clean and provided to each guest.
- Make sure that the property is compliant with fire safety stanards and has an evacuation plan.
- The owner resides on the premises.
- Keep records of the contact details and information of guests.
Additinally, there are some costs involved that must be considered.
Firstly, the license itself is free. But to obtain the Rental Accommodation License, which must be renewed yearly, you will need to provide some supporting evidence to show your accommodation is up to standard.
Namely, a plan that explains how your property will be used, and compliance with all of the requirements set out in Section 6 of the Subordinate Local Law 16.1 (Rental Accommodation) 2008.
Our suggestion is to contact a good town planner for help in submitting your application
Furthermore, you will be subject to higher annual council rates. These can add thousands to your annual council rates bill, so it must be factored into your costs.
You will need to calculate this based on your location and property. Go here for more information – How your rates are calculated on the Gold Coast
What certificates do I need for a bed and breakfast on the Gold Coast?
It is of course best to comply with all of the requirements for certification and have these at minimum.
You will need to obtain certificates of inspection for
- Fire and safety standards from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.
- An evacuation plan as part of your fire safety compliance.
- Electrical safety certificate.
- Site and floor plans that detail sizing compliance.
- Pool fencing certificate.
- Certificate of the building’s classification.
These costs should be considered in addition to your setup costs.
An easy way to find out what certificates you need, and where to apply for them, is through ABLIS – the Australian Business License Information Service. Simply fill in the questionnaire and it will give you all of the information you need.
Make your life easier with our Personalised Co-Hosting Services
So, your property is looking amazing, but you’re wondering how you can fit all of the work required to run a successful Airbnb, while you also still live your life.
If you want to give hosting a shot then go for it, but you might find its too much of a strain.
Especially when the job needs to be done well, and reliably, so your guests can continue to have 5 star experiences.
That’s where Holihome can help. Our tailored co-hosting services are designed to give you what you want, help you make more revenue, simplify your life, and enjoy owning a BNB – without all of the added stress and lost time.
We hope this article has been helpful!
We’ll do our best to keep this updated over time as we continue to offer Airbnb property management services on the Gold Coast.
If you need any help with making your hosting life easier, and improving your revenue, then we’re here to help. Use the form below to start a conversation – now!
We’re here to help you build a bright hosting future.