Short Term Letting Businesses – Are You Good To Go?

19 June 2020

Each day is looking better than the last.  The phones are ringing more in the last week than they have in the last 2 months and Queensland is moving into stage 2 of the relaxation process ahead of schedule.  That means that everyone is working frantically, preparing COVID Safe plans, hiring staff (or re-hiring staff that were previously terminated), and generally working out the new normal.

This, of course, remains a rapidly evolving situation with continual policy announcements from local, state and federal governments, so guidance is often changing and we encourage you to continue to monitor the source of all announcements (in particular the Queensland government website and industry bodies such as ARAMA).

The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the key issues that operators should be addressing right now.

Good to Go

The new tourism campaign announced is the “Good to Go” campaign, aiming to encourage Queenslanders to explore their own backyard.  It is envisaged that this program will eventually extend to interstate travel (when the border issue is resolved). We encourage all operators to get involved where they can and have your COVID Safe documentation in place.  With that you will be able to use the logo and promote your business as being “Good to Go”. There is more information to be found on Tourism Queensland’s website.

Safe work

All businesses must have a COVID Safe plan.  There is an abundance of information about in relation to what these plans require and we encourage you to be familiar with the many resources available from ARAMA and Safe Work Australia, and stay up to date!

There are approved industry plans that will need to be complied with, and there may be several if your business crosses several industries. All of the currently approved plans can be found here (including those still under consideration).

The most common plan for our operators to understand is the Queensland Tourism and Accommodation Plan. ARAMA has also prepared a COVID Safe plan for use by its members, which takes the guiding principles of this plan, so that operators can adapt them to suit their schemes particular needs.

We would expect that this will be a new normal and need to be incorporated into your business for many months (perhaps indefinitely). You need to take a proactive approach to ensure compliance with the approved plans.

Body corporate facilities

You should keep in close contact with your committee about the re-opening of and signage required for any common property facilities, particularly the recreational areas such as the pool and the gym. Liaise closely with and follow the directions of the committee. Whilst the numbers have now increased, the guidance in our article about re-opening body corporate facilities remains relevant.

It is likely that the body corporate will need you to undertake additional duties not specified in your caretaking agreement (such as cleaning at greater frequencies or carrying out sanitising) for some time to come to comply with their own COVID Safe plan.

Your committee

It remains important for you to be in close, regular contact by phone or email with your committee or its nominated liaison person. Decisions still need to be made in relation to the scheme’s compliance with COVID Safe plans in relation to common property areas.  You should try and involve yourself in that process as much as you can and be proactive. You, the committee and the owners will all need to work together to get the complex back up and running and back to business.

Moving forward

As we mentioned, this situation continues to evolve, and hopefully the next announcement will be about the borders re-opening and you being able to welcome interstate guests.  Until then we need to embrace each relaxation, use it to our advantage and keep on making lemonade.

As you will appreciate, these insights are general guidance only and should not be relied on as legal advice. If any of these issues are affecting your specific business, please contact Mahoneys to obtain timely and practical legal advice on the actual issues you are facing.  Until then, we hope that your phone continues to ring and the bookings start to fill up.

By Amy O’Donnell