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Masterclass query: Short Term Accommodation in my apartment building

This article is based on a query by a Broadbeach apartment owner at our 2021 Masterclass for Gold Coast apartment owners.

It relates to a new 90-unit residential tower in Broadbeach.

Some purchasers in the building believed that they had the 'wool pulled over their eyes' by the sellers who told them that the new building would be 'almost all owner-occupier'.

Now that they have moved into the building, they have experienced a lot of 'unsavoury-type' short-term accommodation guests that are causing the other residents nuisance and are creating agitation amongst owner-occupiers.

After purchasing an apartment with approved short term accommodation use

If you are the owner of a Gold Coast apartment in a building where short-term accommodation is permitted and you have concerns about the behaviour short term accommodation guests, you should be aware that:

  1. If the developer for your building has caused your Body Corporate to grant a "letting agent authorisation" to carry on a letting business from apartments whose owners opt into the ‘letting pool’, then you could first check with the authorised letting agent whether the guest is in breach of the terms and conditions of their licence to use the apartment and ask them to address the problem now, and take steps to prevent similar behaviour in the future;

  2. If the guests are not staying in an apartment that is part of the authorised letting agent’s letting pool, then it could be the case that the owner is arranging the short-term letting themselves, or using an outside agent. Finding the details of that owner or agent to notify them of their guests’ behaviour and ask them to address it now and in the future could be another avenue to seek resolution;

  3. The Community Management Statement for the Body Corporate contains by-laws that allow the Body Corporate to regulate the behaviour of owners and occupiers in the building. If an occupier, or their invitee, has engaged in behaviour that breaches a by-law, then you can bring the behaviour to your Committee’s attention, together with supporting evidence (dated photographs, videos etc).

  4. You may also consider asking the Committee (by submitting an Owner Motion) to your Body Corporate Committee to ask it to vote on giving the relevant owner or occupier with a ‘continuing’ or ‘future’ contravention notice, if there is sufficient evidence for the Committee to reasonably believe that the circumstances of the contravention make it likely that the contravention will continue or will be repeated in future.

  5. Ultimately, whilst Body Corporate Committees have the power to issue contravention notices for behaviour that breaches the by-laws, unless this process is implemented very quickly (with the help of the Body Corporate Manager), the opportunity for it to be effective can be lost.

  6. In the absence of the Body Corporate being authorised to apply to amend the planning permit to remove the approved use of the unit as short term accommodation, a holistic approach to managing the behaviour of short term accommodation guests (and all residents for that matter) is in our view, the best long term and practical approach, and involves:

    1. reviewing the Body Corporate’s powers under its by-laws and whether they adequately address the situations experienced in the building;

    2. agreeing standard procedural actions with the onsite letting agent and building manager (if any) which can be implemented quickly in the event of a by-law breach;

    3. ensuring that owners who engage third party agents are kept updated directly (rather than through the third party agent) about by-law breaches (as owners are often in a better position to enforce contracts with their third party agents that include conditions to make sure guests do not cause nuisance);

    4. keeping the community in general (onsite and offsite owners and residents) regularly up to date with the behavioural expectations of residents and guests in the building.

Before purchasing an apartment

Before purchasing a Gold Coast apartment, check whether the property’s development approval allows any of the apartments in the building to be used for short-term accommodation or not.

In this case, the developer had applied for a development permit to allow the 90 apartments to be used interchangeably as a long-term residence or short-term accommodation. The City Plan defines ‘short-term accommodation’ as:

“Premises used to provide short-term accommodation for tourists or travellers for a temporary period of time (typically not exceeding 3 consecutive months) and may be self-contained. The use may include a manager’s residence and office and the provision of recreation facilities for the exclusive use of visitors.”

The City of Gold Coast had approved the developer’s application and issued a permit that allowed short-term accommodation use of the 90 apartments.

Searching development documents

Did you know that you can search for planning applications and approval documents that relate to your Gold Coast apartment building on the City of Gold Coast’s PD Online service, using the property address.

This should help you find a copy of the development application made by the property developer, supporting documents, permits granted and any conditions that must be complied with.

Here at the (nuu) co, we believe in proactively anticipating issues a Body Corporate is likely to encounter and planning to maintain amenity for residents. We tailor our body corporate management services to each client’s needs and we hold ourselves to high ethical standards that set us apart from other body corporate managers in the Gold Coast.

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