Visitor Accommodation FAQs
- Why Does the Council regulate Visitor Accommodation?
- What are the benefits of me correctly applying for Visitor Accommodation?
- More Detailed definition of Visitor Accommodation:
- What are the penalties if I don’t register or obtain resource consent for VA?
- How much does it cost to obtain approval to let my property to short term visitors?
- How do I remove my property from Registered Holiday Home or Registered Homestay status?
- What standards will I have to adhere to if I register as a holiday home or home stay? (NB: Resource consents have their own standards)
- Whats the difference between Resource Consent and Building Consent?
- What if I havent built the house/facility yet?
1. Why Does the Council regulate Visitor Accommodation?
There are a number of reasons why the Council regulates Visitor Accommodation. It is required to by the Local Government Act, the Resource Management Act and the Building Act. Secondly, the Council needs to make sure that public health and safety standards are achieved so that visitors are kept safe and well. This means that the Council needs to know when properties are being used for Visitor Accommodation purposes so that any positive or negative effects can be managed in the right way.
Delivering a high quality of visitor experience is very important. While the Council does not specifically regulate the quality of service provided, other industry/professional bodies do. All operators are strongly encouraged to check with their relevant industry association for further guidance.
There are four tools used by the Council to drive the rules about Visitor Accommodation. They are the District Plan, the Council’s Rating and Development Contributions policies, and the Building Act. Specifically:
- The District Plan regulates Visitor Accommodation through Definitions (see also Homestay, Registered Homestay, and Registered Holiday Home), and Section 2.1.13 – Information and Interpretation, and Appendix 12 – Standards.
- The Rating Policy is used to determine the amount of rates due annually on the property, which is affected by the physical portion or the amount of time the property is used for paying guests. The Rating policy also makes use of the District Plan definitions. The Mixed Use Apportioned rates category may be applied, based on level of guest use, to all Registered Holiday Homes and Registered Homestays, which includes a 25% commercial / accommodation rating apportionment. Most of this funds tourism promotion through Destination Queenstown, Arrowtown Tourism and Lake Wanaka Tourism, benefiting the accommodation providers in the district.
- The Development Contributions Policy determines the property’s contribution to infrastructure for water, wastewater, roading and reserves, based on the use of the property.
- The Building Act governs the fire code and construction requirements of buildings. Requirements for purpose built Visitor Accommodation differ from residential structures. The purpose of the Registered Homestay and Registered Holiday Home definitions under the District Plan were designed to be consistent with the residential Building Act requirements, but if the use is for more than a single household unit, commercial Building Act requirements would apply.
2. What are the benefits of me correctly applying for Visitor Accommodation?
- Free advertising on Destination Queenstown's Accommodation website and Lake Wanaka Tourism's website
- Certainty - you know how often your property can be used for guests/visitors
- One-stop summary of requirements
- For registrations (smaller facilities) there is a simple no fee form of registration
- You will be monitored on your standards to ensure they meet the legal safety requirements
3. More Detailed definition of Visitor Accommodation:
The definition of Visitor Accommodation, Registered Homestay, and Registered Holiday Home are found in the "Definitions" section of the District Plan. They are:
- Visitor Accommodation
- Registered Homestay: Means a homestay used by up to 5 paying guests which has been registered as a Registered Homestay by the Council pursuant to Part 2.1.13 of the plan.
- Registered Holiday Home:
A stand-alone or duplex residential unit which has been registered by the Council as a Registered Holiday Home pursuant to Part 2.1.13 of the plan.
For the purpose of this definition:
- A stand-alone residential unit shall mean a residential unit contained wholly within a site and not connected to any other building.
- A duplex residential unit means a residential unit which is attached to another by way of a common or party wall, provided the total number of buildings attached in the group of residential units does not exceed two.
- Where the residential unit contains a residential flat, the registration as a Registered Holiday Home shall apply to either the letting of the residential unit or the residential flat, but not to both.
4. What are the penalties if I don’t register or obtain resource consent for VA?
Council is required to enforce rules under the Building Act, the Resource Management Act, and Local Government Act (regarding rates and development contributions).
If after communication with a property owner compliance with these acts fails to occur in a timely manner, Council has the right to seek a conviction from the court of an offence such as failing to comply with District Plan rules.
If convicted, fines of up to $300,000 and two years imprisonment are allowed under Section 339 of the Resource Management Act.
There are multiple options for compliance through the registration, resource consent, or ceasing the visitor accommodation use.
5. How much does it cost to obtain approval to let my property to short term visitors?
To see an overview of the visitor accommodation process including possible costs please see our Guide to Short Term Accommodation
6. How do I remove my property from Registered Holiday Home or Registered Homestay status?
Please go to the following link Removal of VA status and choose the most appropriate communication method for you.
7. What standards will I have to adhere to if I register as a holiday home or home stay? (NB: Resource consents have their own standards)
Standards: The owner and management entity must:
(a) Maintain records of all letting.
(b) Ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.
(c) Install and maintain smoke alarms in accordance with the following:
(i) Type 1 Domestic Smoke alarms. This system is to be based around one or more domestic/residential type smoke alarms with integral alerting devices. Coverage shall be limited to selected parts of a single firecell subject to the following: (1) Smoke alarms shall be listed or approved by a recognised national authority as complying with at least one of UL 217, CAN/ULC S531, AS 7386, BS 5446: Part 1. (2) The smoke alarms may be battery powered and are not required to be interconnected. In addition, they shall provide a hush facility having a minimum duration of 60 seconds. (3) Smoke alarms shall have an alarm test facility readily accessible by the building occupants. This facility may be located on the smoke alarms.
(ii) Location of smoke alarms - Smoke alarms shall be located within the escape routes on all levels within the household unit. On levels containing sleeping spaces, the smoke alarm shall be located either: (a) in every sleeping space; or (b) Within 3.0 metres of every sleeping space door. In this case, the smoke alarm must be audible to sleeping occupants on the other side of the closed doors. Smoke alarms shall be installed on or near the ceiling in accordance with AS 1670.6 and the manufacturers instructions.
(iii) Maintenance of Smoke Alarms - maintenance procedures are (a) in-situ annual cleaning with a vacuum cleaner (no disassembly of the smoke alarm); and (b) Monthly testing of the use of the smoke alarms “test” facility.
(d) Ensure any wood burners or fire places comply with relevant Building Act requirements.
(e) The maximum number of adults per residential unit shall not exceed two adults per bedroom. An adult is defined as any person over 16 years of age.
(f) That at least one on-site car park is available for guest use at all times (unless District Plan requirements indicate that a greater number of car parks are required).
8. Whats the difference between Resource Consent and Building Consent?
Very simply a building consent is a consent to build a structure and a resource consent is a consent to undertake an activity that is not permitted as of right in the District Plan or contravenes the rules or fails to meet the standards of the District Plan.
There are five different categories of resource consents, which apply nationally.
- Land use consents - this applies to almost all consents and includes buildings and earthworks.
- Subdivision consents - making one or more lots or Unit Titles or altering a boundary.
- Water permits - jetty construction and commerical activities like jet boat operating, fishing guiding, kayak hire/guiding.
- Discharge permits - for discharges into air, water or onto land.
- Coastal permits - not really applicable in the Lakes District!
Please see Consents and Compliance for more information on building and resource consents.
9. What if I havent built the house/facility yet?
You may be required to obtain a resource consent to build your house/facility anyway, that would be the time to also enquire about Visitor Accommodation. If you follow the question and answer process within this site you can assess which method you need now for future reference and if you find you need a resource consent then contact us to start the process and if you find you need to register with Council you can do this once the building has been constructed by filling in the forms provided at the end of the questioning.