House at dusk with stairs
  • 18 Dec 2023
  • 3 min read
  • By Fair Trading Commissioner Victoria Thomson

Managing a holiday home? You must hold a licence

Holiday leasing, Short-term letting

The festive season is here and while that can signal a quieter time of the year for the long-term rental market, it is the start of a very busy period for holiday and short-term letting.

It’s important to know that someone managing a property on behalf of others, through sites like Airbnb or Stayz, requires a licence to do so.

The popularity of these short-term letting platforms has risen considerably in recent times and while originally conceived as a way for owners to let out a spare room or granny flat, the concept is now popular with owners of investment properties.

An owner can let their own properties without needing to be licensed. However, anyone who lets or negotiates the letting of a property for others for reward, requires a licence under section 26 of the Property Occupations Act 2014 (POA). The same licence is required if collecting rent for others.

Acting without a licence is no mere technical breach of the POA. Strict laws are in place to protect consumers and property owners from financial loss and disruption at the hands of unscrupulous or incompetent unlicensed persons. These are people who have not undertaken the professional training, nor been subject to suitability checks, as required by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Property owners are also afforded certain protections when engaging a licensed real estate agent, including the requirement for the agent to operate a trust account and having access to the Claims Fund if they suffer a financial loss under certain circumstances.    

This year the OFT has taken court action against individuals who provided letting services and collected rent on behalf of property owners without holding an appropriate licence.

A Gold Coast woman was found guilty of one count of acting as a property agent without a licence in the Southport Magistrates Court and was ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling $1,800.

The court heard the woman had advertised properties on platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz which she managed on behalf of the owners. She also owned and operated a website under the name ‘Service My BNB’ where she advertised full property management services including letting.

Investigations found the woman was being paid by the owners of two properties for managing or ‘hosting’ the properties on Airbnb.

There is a further matter currently before the courts involving a Queensland woman who has allegedly acted as a real estate agent for short term accommodation without holding a licence.

Investigations revealed the person had 16 Queensland properties listed for rent on Airbnb on behalf of others. The woman stated that she believed a licence was not required for the activities, as she was operating in the short-term rental accommodation industry.

These matters serve as a timely reminder that if you are operating as a property manager – you must make sure you have a valid licence to do so.

Property licences and registrations are valid for either one or three years. If you’re unsure when it’s up for renewal you can use the online ‘check a licence’ search to confirm that your licence is still current.

If you have any questions about your obligations, contact one of our knowledgeable OFT team members by phoning 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or emailing BrisbaneOFT@justice.qld.gov.au.

Read another property management article: Important changes to body corporate legislation and Land Sales Act.

Or browse our suite of property management articles.

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