Regional council wants commercial rates for Airbnb homes

October 16, 2022 BY

The City of Greater Bendigo is seeking a higher rate class for property owners who list on accommodation sites. Photos: UNSPLASH

The region’s councils are yet to decide if they will back a scheme that would impose higher rates on property owners that list their homes on short stay accommodation sites.

The proposal is contained in a City of Greater Bendigo motion that’s before today’s (Friday, October 14) Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) state council meeting.

If successful, the motion would see the state’s peak council lobby ask the state government to implement the changes.

“The MAV asks the state government to allow properties that are listed on accommodation sites like Airbnb to be rated as commercial properties rather than residential properties and supports councils to easily identify these,” the council’s motion stated.

In its supporting rationale, the council argued the short-term rental trend, facilitated by well-known accommodation sites, removed homes from the long-term rental market.

“By allowing properties that are listed on accommodation sites to be rated at a new differential rate property owners will be encouraged to consider offering long-term rental options to help with rental shortages.”
The City of Greater Geelong’s acting director of customer and corporate services Bryce Prosser said while the city is yet to form a position on the proposal, it was an issue local governments were grappling with.

“Some councils have found it difficult to regulate the rapidly growing sharing economy as it can be complex and resource intensive to identify homes that are being operated as visitor accommodation,” he said.

Under Geelong’s existing rate scheme, Mr Prosser said, the city uses a differential rating based on land use for residential, mixed use and commercial properties.

In 2017 the Borough of Queenscliffe introduced a tourist accommodation rate set at 110 per cent of the residential property rate for properties of five-bedrooms or less where its purpose is to generate income from holiday accommodation.

“As tourism is the largest industry in the borough, Council considers a tourist accommodation rate as necessary to provide the additional services to this sector,” a borough spokesperson said.

“Applying this differential rate ensures equity across ratepayers as these properties are being used differently to other general residential property.”

The Surf Coast Shire’s executive manager of strategic partnerships Damian Waight said his council was “yet to collate officer advice” on the City of Greater Bendigo motion, but the shire did not presently apply a different category for short-term rental accommodation.