Rental accommodation

Some councils are required to monitor the standard of operations in accommodation premises to ensure the health and safety of occupants. This is achieved by regulating particular types of accommodation premises.

Do I need an approval?

Who needs an approval?

Accommodation occupied, or available for occupation, by residents, in return for payment, based on residents sharing one or more of the following facilities:

  • dormitories or bedrooms
  • toilets
  • bathrooms, showers or other bathing facilities
  • laundries
  • dining facilities
  • cooking facilities
  • recreation facilities.

Who does not need an approval?

This local law does not apply to accommodation requiring registration and accreditation as a service provider under the Residential Services (Accreditation) Act 2002 (boarding houses and supported accommodation). Registration applications under this legislation must be made to the Residential Services Unit within the Queensland Government Department of Housing and Public Works. Once you have liaised with Residential Services, please contact Council and arrange for a building compliance audit (as per Queensland Development Code, Part MP 5.7 – Residential services building standard) of your premises. This is a mandatory part of your application to Residential Services.

 

Before you start

If you are starting a new rental accommodation business, taking over or making changes to an existing business, you will need to consider planning, building, and plumbing approvals.

Planning approval

Your first step when starting a new rental accommodation, taking over or making changes to an existing rental accommodation is to check if you need planning approval.

Council’s planning scheme guides how land can be used, developed and changed.

Rental accommodation may need planning approval for the following activities:

  • starting a new rental accommodation activity
  • changing the existing activity (e.g. from private residence to rental accommodation)
  • re-establishing rental accommodation that was abandoned
  • changing the intensity of rental accommodation (e.g. adding extra rooms)
  • carrying out building work (e.g. adding a pool)
  • carrying out plumbing or drainage work.

To find out if you need to submit a development application, you can:

  • lodge an enquiry with Council
  • arrange a pre-lodgement meeting with Council
  • engage a town planning consultant registered with the Planning Institute of Australia
  • self-assess your property details against Council’s planning scheme.

You can access Council's planning scheme using PD Online.

Building approval

Building work for rental accommodation may include:

  • constructing a rental accommodation facility
  • refitting an existing building for rental accommodation.

All building work is assessed against the building assessment provisions (including, but not limited to, the National Construction Code and the Queensland Development Code) which set the minimum requirements for building structure, fire safety, access and egress, health and amenity, and energy efficiency.

To find out if you need building approval, you can:

Certificate of classification

A certificate of classification is a document that specifies a building’s classification.  It contains important information about the use of the building, ongoing maintenance requirements, fire safety and other special requirements. 

You can only operate rental accommodation from Class 1b or Class 3 buildings as identified under the National Construction Code, and your building must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 2.1 – Fire safety in budget accommodation buildings and MP 5.7 – Residential services building standard.

A certificate of classification is required for all Class 1b and Class 3 buildings.  You must display the certificate at all times in a visible position as close as possible to the main entrance to the building.

Owners of rental accommodation must not use or occupy a building without a certificate of classification.

Compliance certificates for building work

Assessable building work requires building approval from a building certifier.  Sometimes the building certifier relies on advice from other people for assessing the design/specification and inspection of buildings.

The building certifier uses these forms to accept advice on assessable building work.

  • Form 15 specifies the design and its limitations.
  • Form 16 confirms the installation or construction meets the design.

Your building certifier will collect these forms if necessary.

Rental accommodation building must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 2.1 – Fire safety in budget accommodation buildings and MP 5.7 – Residential services building standard.

During the licence application process, Council may ask for a Form 15 that certifies the design meets MP 2.1 and MP 5.7 (or some other major component of your business), and a Form 16 to certify that the component was installed to the design specification.

Find out more about Forms 15 and 16.

Rental accommodation with a swimming pool

Rental accommodation with a swimming pool must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 3.4 – swimming pool barriers.

Refer to commercial swimming pools for more information.

Plumbing and drainage approval

Rental accommodation may need plumbing and drainage approval for the following activities:

  • use of non-reticulated water supply (e.g. tank water).

The Plumbing Code of Australia forms part of the National Construction Code and contains the technical provisions for plumbing and drainage.

Plumbing and drainage work should be conducted by a licensed plumber.

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information.

Backflow prevention devices

Backflow prevention devices stop sewage flowing back through to the town’s water supply.  There are two different types of backflow prevention devices, testable and non-testable.

All rental accommodation connected to town water require a non-testable backflow prevention device.  A licensed plumber can install a non-testable backflow prevention device for you.

Rental accommodation with pre-treatment equipment will need to have a testable backflow prevention device. A testable backflow device must be:

  • installed by an endorsed backflow plumber
  • registered with Council by the endorsed backflow plumber
  • inspected or tested annually by a licensed plumbing contractor.

Contact Council or your local water authority for further information on backflow prevention devices.

Non-reticulated water supply

Reticulated water is drinkable water supplied by the local water authority. Non-reticulated water is any other water you have access to (e.g. rainwater, groundwater from wells or bores, or greywater from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances).

Rental accommodation businesses can use rainwater or greywater (or other non-reticulated water) for non-drinking purposes including flushing toilets, gardening, and as cold water for washing machines.

Some local governments require the re-use of rainwater or greywater systems in new buildings.  A list of participating local governments is available from the Department of Housing and Public Works.

The installation of a non-reticulated water supply must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 4.3 – Supplementary Water Sources. A plumbing approval is not required for the use of rainwater or greywater in your building, but your plumber will need to notify the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.  Your plumber will provide you with a copy of the notification.

You may need planning or building approval for storage tanks larger than 10m2, or if the tank is located in a cyclone area.

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information on the use of a non-reticulated water supply.

How to apply

Applications can be submitted (with the relevant fee) in person at Council offices or by surface mail.

The applicant for an approval must be a legal entity (e.g. person/s or a company. Note - a trust name, business name or shop name is not a legal entity and cannot be the licence holder).

A new application is not required for minor changes (e.g. a change of contact details). Contact Council for these changes. Find out how to make changes to an existing licence in this section.

Use this information to assist you in ensuring your application is complete and to consider other applications that may be required for your business.

Forms

Rental accommodation application forms are available from Council.

Plans

You may be required to submit plans with your application. The plans should include the following:

1.   A site plan and floor plan detailing:

  • access to and egress from the accommodation
  • proposed use of each room and maximum number of persons accommodated in each bedroom
  • location, number and type of all sanitary facilities and shared facilities
  • location and type of fire fighting installations.

2.  A site plan showing the location of premises in regard to other premises.

Certification

The following certifications must be submitted with the application:

Public liability insurance

Applicants must hold Broadform public liability insurance to the value of at least $10 million. The certificate of currency must be submitted with the rental accommodation application.

Application process - new

This process is for starting a new rental accommodation business.

You must obtain relevant planning approval, building approval and plumbing approval before you submit a rental accommodation application.

  • Submit your rental accommodation application and plans using the approved form. You are responsible for ensuring the application is complete.
  • Council will process your application and plans within the legislative or agreed timeframe. Council will contact you should additional information be required to process the application.
  • When Council approves your plans, you may begin the fit out. Your building certifier and licensed plumber will advise if any building or plumbing approvals are required.
  • Upon completion of the fit out, contact Council.
  • Council may inspect the premises before making a decision.
  • When Council approves your licence application, you can then operate in accordance with the approved conditions.

Application process - taking over

This process is for taking over an existing rental accommodation business.

You may apply for a search of Council records for information on the current rental accommodation business and the conditions of approval. This process may require written permission from the vendor.

  • Submit your rental accommodation application using the approved form. You are responsible for ensuring the application is complete.
  • Council will process your application within the legislative or agreed timeframe. Council will contact you should additional information be required to process the application.
  • Council may inspect the premises before making a decision.
  • When Council approves your application, you can commence business in accordance with the approved conditions.

Application process - making changes

This process is for making changes to an existing rental accommodation licence.

Adding extra facilities or renovating your premises could change current planning, building and plumbing approvals. Contact Council to discuss any changes to your premises prior to the commencement of work.

  • Submit your rental accommodation application and plans using the approved form. You are responsible for ensuring the application is complete.
  • Council will process your application and plans within the legislative or agreed timeframe. Council will contact you should additional information be required to process the application.
  • When Council approves your plans, you may begin the fit out. Your building certifier and licensed plumber will advise if any building or plumbing approvals are required.
  • Upon completion of the fit out, contact Council.
  • Council may inspect the premises before making a decision.
  • When Council approves your application, you can commence business in accordance with the approved conditions.

Renewal of licence

If you need to amend details on your approval or require a copy of your approval, contact Council.

A notice will be sent prior to the expiration of your current.

Related Applications

Advertising signs licence

Some councils have rules about the type and location of any advertising signs for businesses. Depending on the type of advertising sign, you may need to obtain a licence. Find out more about advertising signs.

Business trading name

If you are registering a new business name, you will need to contact the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

Food business licence

If you intend to or already operate a food business in conjunction with your accommodation premises, refer to the food business licence information.

Liquor licence

If you intend to sell or serve alcohol on the premises, you may need to apply for a liquor licence. Visit the Business Queensland website for information on liquor licences.

Swimming pools

If you intend to or already operate a swimming pool in conjunction with your accommodation premises, refer to the swimming pool information. 

How to comply

It is your responsibility to ensure compliance with all requirements of the relevant legislation.

Regulation (Inspection process)

Legislation requires Council to monitor the standard of operations in business and this is achieved through a routine inspection program. The expected frequency of these inspections will depend on the type of business being operated and its level of compliance.

Enforcement

If you are operating a rental accommodation business you must have a current approval and comply with all relevant legislation.

If you have difficulty complying, contact Council.

Failure to comply with Council’s requirements may result in one or more of the following enforcement actions:

  • a letter being issued requiring action or work to be conducted
  • a legal notice being issued requiring action to be taken or work to be conducted
  • penalty infringement notice (PIN) or on-the-spot fine
  • suspension of an approval
  • cancellation of an approval
  • prosecution.

Complaint management

Council has a duty to investigate and respond to complaints received. A complaint may result in an inspection of your premises to ensure you are complying.