Shock over council's major rate hike on holiday accommodation: 'Hell of a lot'

Investors are "horrified" at the increases, some of which have risen by more than 48 per cent.

A huge increase to rates on Sunshine Coast holiday accommodations has been slammed as a “tourist tax” by those impacted by huge rises of up to 48 per cent.

The steep increase was announced in the Sunshine Coast Council’s 2023-2024 budget last month, but property owners are now feeling the pinch as they receive their first rates notices with the higher charge.

While rates for long term rentals and owner-occupied dwellings on the coast went up by 5.5 per cent on average, short term accomodation – which council classifies as anything that is rented for periods of less than 42 consecutive days at any one time – rose by a whopping 44 per cent on average.

An aerial view of Mooloolaba beach.
The Sunshine Coast is a popular destination for tourists, but short-term accommodation owners are now being stung with a sharp increase on their rates. Source: Getty/File

Owners of low-rise units suffered the sharpest rate rises with a 48.4 per cent jump, while high rise units increased by 45.6 per cent and stand alone houses went up by at least 34.8 per cent.

Rate rises 'horrific' for owners

Unit owners and investors are “horrified”, the general manager of Mooloolaba’s Landmark Resort told the Courier Mail.

“They’ve put a carte blanche blanket over every short term rental and it’s affected every tourist apartment on the Sunshine Coast so it’s nothing but a tourism tax,” Brett Thompson said.

“There’s horror, a 46 per cent increase is horrific for these people because obviously with the cost of living at the moment and the cost of body corporate levies.”

Brett Thompson, general manager of the Landmark Resort, speaks to 7News.
Brett Thompson, general manager of the Landmark Resort, labelled the council's move as a "cash grab". Source: 7News

Sunshine Coast Airbnb property manager Tanya Tempest, who owns Soullful Stayz, said she feels the latest rates notices will be a shock to some of her clients, but believes the council’s plan to convert some short-term accomodation into long-term rentals will ultimately be successful.

“We’ve really had to drop down the pricing just to get bookings, so I guess this on top of it will definitely affect a lot of people and I guess they may not have any other choice but to put their properties in the long-term pool again rather than do the short-term,” Ms Tempest told Yahoo News Australia.

“I definitely do see that happening.”

She said a friend had recently received their new rates notice showing an increase of $500.

“Which is a hell of a lot,” she said. “I knew they were going up, but not to that extent so I was quite shocked too.”

A dozen people line up outside a rental property in Queensland.
The vacancy rate on the Sunshine Coast is at 1%, much lower than that suitable rate. In parts of Queensland, rental properties attract dozens of prospective tenants in large queues. Source:

Council responds to rate increase

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson told Yahoo News the new rates now reflected other government areas in South East Queensland.

"In setting the Differential General Rates for 2023/24, Council considered the relative contribution to the overall rate revenue generated across all rate categories.

"Given Council’s considerable and on-going contributions towards tourism and major events in the region it was considered that the Transitory Accommodation rating categories were required to be revised.

"Therefore, to be consistent with other South East Queensland tourism destinations, short term stay accommodation properties have been reviewed and benchmarked, resulting in general rates comparable to those of other local government authorities."

The spokesperson said any property owners who opted to makes their dwellings available for long-term use would have their rates reduced accordingly.

A row of apartments overlooking the ocean on the Sunshine Coast.
Those working as property managers say the rate rise has come as a shock to the owners of the dwellings. Source: Getty/File

"A review of all differential rating categories for units is proposed for this year with potential outcomes reflected in future financial years," the spokesperson continued.

"With regard to payment of rate notices, if unit owners are unable to pay their rates by the due date, they may be eligible to pay their rates by interest free instalments, if paid by the end of the current half yearly rates period (31 December 2023)."

Council releases new plan to combat homelessness

The rates notices come as council released its Housing and Homelessness Action Plan on Thursday, which states the number of residents experiencing homelessness has risen by 54 per cent between 2016 to 2021.

“The rental vacancy rate as of January 2023 was 1%, which is three to four times less than the rate considered suitable. As a result of this continued pressure on the Sunshine Coast housing system which is affecting our community,” the report states.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.