Connect with us:

Short term letting – Decision challenged

How Airbnb (or short term letting generally) operate in bodies corporate has been covered off in various articles. In short:

  • by-laws regulated by the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld) (BCCMA) cannot regulate the use of a residential lot;
  • local councils can (and sometime do) regulate the use of a residential lot; and
  • the building class under the National Construction Code does not impact on the short term use.

There are reports that an owner is challenging Noosa Council’s decision to prohibit short term letting of their residential lot. In this article we discuss what this might mean for a body corporate.


To recap the position, by-laws created pursuant to the BCCMA cannot interfere with how a residential lot is used. We have previously discussed this here:

However, bodies corporate regulated by the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 (Qld) can impose by-laws that restrict short term letting. We also discussed this here:


The council’s rulemaking powers (at least in relation to short term letting) are not limited in the same way as a body corporate’s bylaws are limited.

Relevantly, a council’s planning scheme can determine whether short term letting (or other types of use) is permitted automatically. If the use is not permitted automatically, a person may make an application to council for the approval of the non-permitted use.

If a property is used contrary to council’s permission, the lot owner can be fined. Some councils are better resourced and motivated to enforce these rules than a body corporate might be.

Challenging council

A Noosa lot owner, who had been using their property in a duplex for short-term letting, applied to the council for permission to continue do so. Council’s position was that the planning scheme does not allow for short-term letting for the relevant property and therefore denied the application. Ordinarily, this would be the end of the road for the lot owner. There’s no point in taking on a well-resourced council over an issue that has had significant public support in the area. However, the property owner has decided to challenge the Noosa Council’s decision in the Planning and Environment Court to determine whether the Council’s planning scheme does actually prevent short-term letting.

Although this owner’s challenge will be limited to the interpretation of Noosa’s planning scheme, it will be significant to determine:

  • what lengths will a Council go to in order to prevent short-term letting;
  • if Council is unsuccessful, will it consider amending the planning scheme to tighten up its restrictions;
  • will it lead to a floodgate of other applications for short-term letting in the area;
  • will other councils take steps to change their planning schemes to tighten up any short-term letting restrictions;
  • how much will all of this cost the property owner; and
  • will the views of the other lot owners in the body corporate be taken account of by council or the Court.

Short-term letting continues to be one of the most polarising issues in strata.

Without legislative reform to the BCCMA, the majority of bodies corporate will continue to be spectators as to how council will address short term letting. Due to the fact that planning schemes vary across council areas, the issue will continue to be one that is treated differently across the state.

This article was contributed by Todds Garsden, Partner – Mahoneys. 

Leave a Reply

  1. Ann

    AS this is a 2 lot duplex, it is significantly different to a hi rise unit complex with 200 plus units, reference noise interference etc to other residents in the complex.
    Although currently the BCCM Act does not cover AirBandB, definately needs to be addressed in adjusted legislation.
    I live in a building with registered holiday letting with the Building Manager’s contract. There are also resident owners and fixed term tenants, some managed by local Real Estate Agents. We also have AirBandB, most managed by business operators.
    When someone checks into the Holiday let they have to supply identification details, also with fixed term the Property Manager has identification details. We do not have that with AirBandB, so although we live in a ‘secure’ building with fob access, there are people staying that we do not know.
    There should be a system that AirBandB managers register the guest in the building they will be staying in for the BC info.
    Why couldn’t a hotel type check in system be used for AirBandB in a building ??

  2. Cheryl Woodlands

    A Duplex is two units joined by a common wall on a block of land but in the wording here I am left wondering if it is two units joined by a common wall within a complex of more units.
    The Noosa Council’s extra rate charge for short term lettings is making holidays for the average family more expensive as owners in the family resorts in the area have no choice but to increase accommodation rates. Unless in an area that is mainly residential living owners should be able to short term let. Council should make it compulsory that there is always someone contactable in case of issues.

  3. Dale Treanor

    Looking forward to hearing about the decision in this matter. This is also a live issue requiring clarity in the Cairns region.

  4. Raymond Mchenry

    I also have a issue in the Cairns area . (Clifton Beach)
    i live is a strata building “Clifton Gardens” on the beach which is a 15 unit, four story high complex.
    I have been short term renting my unit out for the last 4 months.
    However the Body Corporate has employed a Lawyer to write to me threatning legal action if i dont stop short term letting ;citing Council rules and building codes and regulations
    I dont Air B and B.
    I have a bonified registered letting agent who only lets to older retirees and well behaved people. In the past 4 months there has not been any
    issue with any tenant. Can Body Corporate or lawyer stop me renting