For resident letting agents
During special events, such as Schoolies or the Gold Coast 600, it's important to remember to treat all your guests in the same way. Any rule or condition that you plan to impose during special events, must be one that applies to all guests.
When taking bookings for special event periods, we recommend you:
- seek clear and early instructions from property owners as to whether they will let their properties during events such as Schoolies
- ensure only properties with owners approval are available for letting, not only through direct bookings with you, but also any third party booking agents or websites
- clearly outline your house rules, terms and conditions when you first take an enquiry from a potential guest, including any cancellation fees or charges in your booking terms and conditions
- check any third-party booking agencies provide your correct, current house rules, terms and conditions to potential guests.
If you have to cancel a booking, you should refund all payments including the deposit. You can offer accommodation of an equal standard if this is acceptable to the guest.
If the accommodation you can provide is inferior to that which was booked, guests should be given the choice between compensation equivalent to the difference in the accommodation standard or the right to cancel the booking without penalty.
If a guest changes or cancels the booking, your normal conditions should apply. These conditions, particularly any cancellation fees or charges, should have already been clearly outlined to the guests before they finalised their booking.
If you intend to charge a security deposit during special events, we recommend you:
- inform guests of security deposit terms and conditions prior to completing their booking, so they know what types of damage could result in the loss of their security deposit
- inform guests of the process for retrieving the security deposit after their stay
- have a complaint handling procedure in place to help resolve security deposit disputes
- issue guests with a trust account receipt immediately after receiving security deposit
- bank the security deposit into a trust account, as soon as you receive it.
If you plan to hold a security deposit from guests during special events, you must request one from all guests.
In situations where you think some or all of the security deposit should be withheld, we recommend you:
- provide the guest with an explanation in writing of the damage done and the reasons for the deduction or non-refund, within 48 hours after check-out
- give the guest a clear explanation of how you determined the amount of the security deposit money you wish to withhold
- get several quotes for the repairs and use them as a guide to set the amount
- negotiate with the guest to agree on a fair amount of security deposit money to withhold
- provide a copy of the quotes and tradesperson's receipt to the guest when returning the security deposit balance
- explain the guest's options for disputing the withheld security deposit.
Disputes and complaint handling
You should have a complaint handling procedure in place to deal with any disputes that arise with guests.
The procedure should outline:
- how a complaint should be lodged (verbally or in writing)
- who the complaint should be lodged with
- how complaints will be investigated and responded to.
When putting a complaints handling procedure in place, we recommend you:
- read the Australian standards for complaint handling and customer service
- involve your staff in its development and decide who will handle complaints
- prepare a standard complaint form
- anticipate common complaints and work out possible standard solutions with your staff
- ensure all staff are trained in the complaint handling procedure and have the skills to handle complaints well
- have a sign saying your business welcomes genuine complaints and clearly advise guests how they can report any problems
- keep a record of all problems and complaints raised and analyse the information gathered
- trial the system outside of special events periods and use guest and staff feedback to fine tune it.
Hiring security guards
You may want to hire security guards and/or crowd controllers for special event periods. If you choose to hire security guards and/or crowd controllers, brief them on house rules, complaint handling and eviction procedures.
If you are considering hiring or employing security guards and/or crowd controller, ensure:
- the option is discussed and agreed to by the body corporate committee, especially the issue of how the cost of any extra security will be covered
- the security firm and individual officers are licensed appropriately with the Office of Fair Trading
- you have clearly established the role of the security officers and/or crowd controllers in both protecting the property and dealing with guests.
Any house rules should be consistent for all guests during special events. While it may be tempting to impose stricter house rules on Schoolies, anti-discrimination laws make it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of their age alone.
You should clearly outline your house rules, terms and conditions when you first take an enquiry from a potential guest. Check that any third-party booking agencies are also providing your current house rules, terms and conditions to potential guests.
Ensure the house rules do not have the potential to result in harsh or unfair consequences for guests. Have written eviction guidelines for use if the safety of other guests or property damage is an issue. Issue a warning before eviction if possible.
Examples of rules which are likely to be seen as harsh or unfair include:
- rules allowing random inspections without consent of guests
- bag searches without the consent of the owner
- blanket statements that a breach of any rule, irrespective of how minor or trivial, will result in eviction
- rules which enable you to evict all guests staying in a unit as a result of the conduct of one guest
- rules which prohibit external visitors or which prohibit visitors in public areas
- rules which seek to impose a fee on a guest as a penalty for breaching a rule (unless this fee relates to property damage).
If you do intend to conduct room inspections during special event periods, we recommend you:
- outline the room inspection process in your house rules
- outline the process when you take a booking, and again at check-in
- have your guests sign consent to the room inspection process as part of their agreement to abide by the house rules
- ensure the guest is present during inspections
- ensure the room inspection policy and process applies to all guests all year round.
You have the right to make bag checks a term of entry for guests staying at your premises, but it must be part of the contract, you must clearly communicate it to your guests and it must apply to all your guests.
You should always ask for the guest's consent to search their bag. If they give consent, follow these tips when conducting bag checks:
- never conduct a check without the owner being present
- ask guests to open their own bags and move around the items within the bag so you can see
- if the guest is not happy to let you inspect the bag in public, have an area ready where you can go privately
- try to have a witness present.
If the guest does not give consent, you cannot do the search. However, if consent is not given, you can exercise any rights in the accommodation contract that you may have. This may include eviction from the unit, but only if the terms of contract provide for this.
Alcohol on premises
If the accommodation complex has a liquor licence, it is illegal for underage people to consume or possess alcohol while staying there. Fines of up to $2500 apply.
If the accommodation complex is unlicensed, or the unit is removed from the complex's liquor licence, it is not illegal for underage people to consume or possess alcohol in the privacy of their own unit. However, it is illegal for an adult to supply alcohol to a minor and then not responsibly supervise its consumption.
We recommend that you outline the conditions regarding alcohol within the house rules.
It is illegal for anyone to drink alcohol or be drunk in a public place, including common areas within the accommodation complex, regardless of age. Fines for this offence range from $100 to $2500.
For more information visit the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation website.
If there are bunk beds in your units, make sure they are safe. Bunk beds should have:
- no gaps of between 90mm and 230mm that can be a head entrapment hazard
- a guardrail fitted to all four sides of the top bunk, that extends at least 160mm above the height of the mattress
- no protrusions (such as screw heads or guardrail joints) of more than 5mm
- a securely attached ladder to provide safe access to and from the top bunk.
Ensure any blind or curtain cords do not pose a strangulation risk by:
- making sure cords do not form a loop by fitting safety tassels
- keeping beds, cots, playpens and other furniture away from blind and curtain cords
- cutting cords short, so they are at least 1.6m above the bottom of the blind or curtain.
It is mandatory that all residences have working smoke alarms installed. It is important plans are made and practised for the safe evacuation of all occupants should a fire occur. The safety of building occupants is the responsibility of the owner or manager of the property.
Last reviewed 26/04/2013