Source: 6th December 2018 AICWA e-Newsletter
21 November 2018 Sharon Fox-Slater
While the Airbnb juggernaut seems to show no signs of slowing, hosts are risking their finances by failing to ensure they have legal liability insurance.
The tragic death of a 4-year-old boy and the injury of a 7-year-old girl, who were playing on a homemade swing when it toppled down a slope at a property being rented via Airbnb on the Sunshine Coast in September, raised a question about legal liability at Airbnbs. The incidents shone a spotlight on the insurance gap that exists if the property owner (host) does not have specialist short-term landlord cover.
My client has home and contents cover
Ordinary owner-occupier insurance is generally insufficient to cover death and injury if the property is being rented, either through a standard lease or via a share accommodation platform like Airbnb. Most home and contents policies stipulate that there is no legal liability cover if the premises are being used to generate an income — and that includes rent.
Policyholders intending to use the property for Airbnb can ask if their insurer will extend cover, but as most insurers consider this “high risk”, there’s a good chance they’ll be refused.
My client has landlord insurance
Typical landlord insurance will only insure stays longer than 90 days and usually requires copies of residential tenancy agreements, which means it won’t cover short-term stays. Those with standard (fixed-term lease) landlord cover should confirm with their insurer if it is possible to switch to short-term cover if they go down the Airbnb route — it may not be, as not all landlord insurers offer cover for short-stay leases, and even if they do, they may specifically exclude Airbnb.
BTW: If your landlord thinks a bit of “secret squirrel” is best and they suggest keeping their plans to rent the property via Airbnb quiet from their insurer, they should think again. It is a requirement under the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth) for policyholders to notify their insurer if there is any change in circumstances, such as a decision to offer their premises for short-term rental. Failure to notify an insurer of a change in living conditions could be considered a breach of the contract and may void the policy.
What about host protection?
Relying on Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance is fraught. Although it offers up to US$1 million in cover “in the event of a third-party claim of bodily injury or property damage” during an Airbnb stay, it generally only applies when the host or landlord has been at fault or been negligent in the circumstances of the injury.
In this specific case, there would be a need to prove that the owner of the property was aware, or should have been aware, that the swing posed a risk to children who used it, and in light of that knowledge, that they had failed to repair and maintain the swing or remove it. If it is determined that no one was at fault, then there would be no compensation payable.
If, however, it could be proved that the swing was clearly unsafe and the property owner should have been aware it posed a risk, but still failed to repair or remove it, then the children’s family could have grounds for a claim against the host.
So how can my landlord protect their legal liability?
The best way for a host/landlord to protect their legal liability when they rent their property via Airbnb is to have the right landlord insurance. Your landlords need a specialist policy that covers the risks associated with short-term leasing — including legal liability — and one which specifically covers renting via share accommodation platforms like Airbnb.
Hosts/landlords and their agents should reduce the risk of being responsible for damage to property or for compensation for an injured guest by making sure they take steps to avoid any liability in the first place. A key to this is ensuring the property is safe and well maintained.
Despite the best intentions, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and the host/landlord — and also possibly you as their agent — can face a compensation claim from a guest. Having a guest injured or worse on the property is bad enough; finding out that your landlord (and quite possibly yourself) could be legally liable but not insured could be a financial disaster.
So, it pays to make sure landlords hitching their wagon to the Airbnb star have the right short-term insurance in place, and that your Professional Indemnity cover is up to date, too.
Review of the GST at settlement measure
Now that the GST measure has been operating for 6 weeks the ATO have put together a Process Review Document HERE
ATO invite interested parties to be part of a Webinar: GST at settlement – Process guidance and common questions - Thursday 6 September 2-3pm
This webinar will focus on the GST at settlement process for purchasers and suppliers. We will also cover some of the issues we have identified with forms received so far and the queries received from industry since the measure has come into effect. Register HERE.
ATO have experienced some issues with despatching the three automated emails for the GST measure. This has resulted in some delays in these emails being issued. If you have any queries relating to your transaction please contact us on 13 28 66 (fast code 3, 4)
Just a reminder that GST is now a query of every Residential contract dated on & post 1/7/18.
Not just the obvious ‘new land or new builds’, since ‘New Residential Premises’ under the Taxation administration act, may still be quite aged properties!
“The term ‘new residential premises’ is defined in s 40-75 of the GST Act:
Residential premises are new residential premises if they:
a. have not previously been sold as residential premises and have not previously been the subject of a long-term lease; or
b. have been created through substantial renovations of a building; or
c. have been built, or contain a building that has been built, to replace demolished premises on the same land.”
The AICWA have created a ‘Seller’s Notice to Buyer’ seems to be more direct about if GST is applicable or not?
Either way this new ruling is not well known, nor tested so watch this space as it is likely to develop further as time goes on.
The GST on property transactions measure has been introduced, as schedule 5 to the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 1) Bill 2018.
The Government will strengthen compliance with the Goods & Service Tax (GST) law by requiring purchasers of newly constructed residential properties or new subdivisions to remit the GST directly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as part of settlement. The measure will require the purchaser of newly constructed residential properties of new subdivisions to remit the GST on the purchase price directly to the ATO as part of Settlement for contracts on or after July 1, 2018.
You can access the legislation as introduced along with the explanatory materials by following this link HERE.
Makes me laugh that "the Federal Government will strengthen compliance" BY MAKING OTHER PEOPLE DO THEIR JOB!!!! Yet another coming tax trap for buyers of new properties. GST Withholding.
From 1 July 2018, the Federal Government will strengthen compliance with the Goods & Service Tax (GST) law by requiring purchasers of newly constructed residential properties or new subdivisions to remit the GST directly to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as part of settlement. Under the current law (where the GST is included in the purchase price and the developer remits the GST to the ATO), some developers are failing to remit the GST to the ATO despite having claimed GST credits on their construction costs.
The measure will require the purchaser of newly constructed residential properties of new subdivisions to remit the GST on the purchase price directly to the ATO as part of Settlement for contracts on or after July 1, 2018.
New Commonwealth Government legislation came into effect on 1 July 2017 requiring more information to be provided to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) when ownership of a property changes. This applies to all buyers and sellers across Australia. The requirements are a COAG initiative to enable the ATO to develop consistent and comparable datasets in the national database, which will reduce tax error and increase tax compliance.
Every state and territory is implementing the data collection in accordance with individual state legislation. In Western Australia this initiative has been led by Landgate, supported by the Office of State Revenue.
Section 43A of the Land Tax Assessment Act 2002 provides a concession for the amount of land tax payable on subdivided lots owned at 30 June each year.
This concession allows subdividers to pay land tax and metropolitan region improvement tax on the lower undeveloped or englobo value of land holdings, rather than the full subdivided value of lots, for one year after the creation of the lots.
In what is suspected to be a “man in the middle scam”, funds were unwittingly deposited by a purchaser into an east coast bank account in the lead up to a settlement and then transferred by the scammers to an overseas account resulting in a significant loss of $557,000.
Typically, this type of scam will occur when the contents of person’s private emails are accessed and details of future financial transactions are seized upon by scammers. Victims will be contacted by what they believe to be their agent via a genuine email address when in fact it is the scammer who has assumed the identity of a recipient requesting the transfer.
Scammers are attracted to targeting property professionals and their clients due to the potential for high yield lucrative opportunities.
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