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Queensland short-stay cowboys get silver bullet through stringent RLA licensing

Sunday 01, Feb 2015

Restricted Letting Agent licenses used by onsite property managers in Queensland apartment complexes could be the silver bullet to oust cowboy operators using sites such as AirBnB and Stayz, according to a national Management Rights body.

With over 3,000 management rights buildings nationally, the demand for onsite managers acting as caretakers and letting agents within strata developments is on the rise as a result of Australia’s apartment boom; where in Queensland alone the industry is estimated to be greater than $15 billion.

However, onsite property managers in Queensland are required to hold a RLA license to let on behalf of unit owners, and now Government is being urged to adopt the licensing to keep the ‘cowboys’ out of the letting market. The sale and purchasing of Management Rights business contributes to over $150 million in State Stamp Duty Taxes per annum.

The Australian Resident Accommodation Managers Association (ARAMA) is the peak body for resident managers nationwide and CEO Trevor Rawnsley says that RLA licensing will help control who rents on short-stay sites like AirBnB where problems with operators and ‘party houses’ have created distrust in strata communities.

“When a resident manager with a RLA license acts as both a building manager and a dedicated letting agent in a strata complex, the unit owners will benefit from higher occupancy rates and the assurance that their properties are being professionally managed.”

“The licensing ensures that the onsite manager can only let lots on behalf of their client providing they have the authority of the Body Corporate via a Letting Agreement.”

“It is an entry level license category that only includes the relevant obligations such as trust accounting, meaning that an onsite manager will be equipped and licensed to handle owners’ monies when letting of lots for both short-stays and long-stays."

“The manager will be required to comply with the Letting Agreement even if the unit will be occupied for one night, which offers strata communities some management over the current unregulated short-stay industry.”

“This explains why Queensland does not have the same volume of problems relating to AirBnB and Stayz operators.”

“Unregulated short-stays are becoming a growing problem in strata schemes, however a push for RLA licensing in the Management Letting Rights industry will safeguard property investors as apartment living grows.”

ARAMA is working with the ACCC, NSW Tourism Industry, the Victorian Tourism Industry and directly with each respective State Government to influence the policy writers in relation to the RLA category.

Mr Rawnsley says that the other States have indicated a willingness to fall in line if the licensing passes in NSW and Vic.

“In NSW there is currently a bill waiting to proceed to Parliament that proposes to remove the NSW equivalent of the RLA license thus making it even more difficult to operate an MLR business in NSW.”

”Right now we are pushing hard with NSW Fair Trading to submit that the RLA Licensing Category is the solution to some of the issues identified in the Short Term Holiday Letting Options Paper which is currently in the hands of the policy writers in NSW.”

“In all States legitimising Management Letting Rights would help strata communities to have some control over operators who use AirBnB, Stayz or other problematic short stay letting portals.”