The dos and don’ts of short-term accommodation letting in the greater Knysna area

Opportunities exist for homeowners to provide short-term holiday accommodation rentals of their own homes as a guesthouse or bed and breakfast (B&B) – if they comply with certain rules and conditions and have obtained the necessary approval.

“The terms and circumstances in which homeowners may rent out their properties as short-term or holiday accommodation can be confusing,” said acting municipal manager, Johannes Jonkers. “We want to make sure that everyone understands what the rules are and how to benefit from this potential source of additional income if they wish to do so.”

Short-term rental is the letting of a room, rooms or a whole property be it a house, group house or flat to a transient guest, who has a permanent residence elsewhere, in return for payment. This includes the rooms of a guesthouse or B&B in a house.

“The property owner must check if there are any restrictive provisions or clauses in their property title deeds that prohibit such letting of the property,” Jonkers explained. “If the property they wish to rent out is located within the jurisdiction of a body corporate or homeowners’ association, the owner must verify if that organisation’s rules allow for such activity and get their body corporate or HOA’s permission to do so.”

“Renting out your home as a B&B is subject to a number of rules,” he continued. “If the activities that take place at your rented property or the number of available rooms exceed the restrictions imposed on the running of a B&B, you can apply to let the space as a guesthouse.”

The rules a homeowner must follow to rent out their property as a B&B include, but are not limited to:

  • No more than two (2) rooms may be used as bedroom accommodation for paying guests or lodgers, and no more than four (4) paying guests or lodgers may be supplied with lodging or meals at any time.
  • No alcoholic beverages may be sold except to resident guests for consumption on the premises with meals.
  • Guest rooms may not be converted to, or used as, separate self-catering units with kitchens.
  • Meals may only be supplied to guests or lodgers who have lodging on the property, employees, and the family residing in the dwelling.
  • Weddings, receptions, conferences, training or any similar activities are not permitted to take place in a B&B.
  • No activities may be carried out which constitute, or are likely to constitute, a source of public nuisance.
  • On-site parking is to be provided in accordance with the provisions of the Knysna Municipality Zoning Scheme Bylaw.

“Provided that the scope of the letting activities does not fall in the B&B or guesthouse categories, property owners who make their houses available for short-term holiday letting are not seen as contravening any land use matters in terms of the Knysna Zoning Scheme Bylaw,” Jonkers confirmed.

“Group houses or flats may not be rented out on a short-term basis as a B&B or a guesthouse,” he continued. “Owners of these type of properties who are considering letting them out on a short-term basis must first apply to the municipality for permission to do so.”

To apply for permission to rent out any property on a short-term basis, request a pre-application consultation with a land use planner at one of the municipality’s Land Use Management offices. The land use planner will confirm which land uses are currently allowed on your property and what type of application can be made to permit short-term accommodation letting thereof.

“The greater Knysna area is a popular vacation destination and tourism brings a lot of revenue to our area. Times have been tough and we are all looking at additional ways of generating income. But we have to do so with consideration for our neighbours and within the parameters of the law,” he concluded. “If you want to rent out your property as a holiday rental, then do so. Just make sure that you do it the right way.”

For more information please contact the Land Use Management Department at 044 302 6319 or hsmit@knysna.gov.za.

To report suspected unauthorised activities, please lodge a written complaint at planning@knysna.gov.za. Knysna Municipality will only respond to written complaints in this regard. Please note that, in cases that concern homeowners’ associations and body corporates, these organisations are responsible for regulating short-term accommodation letting.