Greens MP and spokesperson for tourism and housing, Jan Barham, has welcomed the Land and Environment Court decision on holiday letting of a residential-zoned dwelling in Terrigal.
The former Byron Shire mayor said, ‘the court’s clarification that homes in residential zones that were intended for long-term occupancy are inappropriate for tourism purposes is an important outcome for local communities’.
‘In coastal areas especially, the use of homes for short-term tourism rentals has seen many potential homes lost to permanent residents, causing a shortage in housing supply,’ Ms Barham said.
‘The last two Census reports have shown that Byron Bay, where many homes have been given over to holiday lets, has lost permanent residents, and this has seen an erosion of community spirit.
‘In terms of tourism use, holiday letting has not served the community well. It has operated as an unapproved use that hasn’t contributed financially to Council to offset the pressures of tourism.
‘In an area already under housing stress such as Byron Bay, it has diminished the available rental stock for locals and has meant that essential workers such as teachers, nurses and tradespeople have not been able to find affordable housing.
‘The use of residential-zoned dwellings for tourism purposes has also had a major impact on housing prices, as buyers were lured into higher purchase prices on the expectation of high rental returns.
‘During the peak tourism and event periods such as Schoolies, rents of $5,000 per week have not been uncommon.
‘But often the homes sit vacant for long periods and the loss of neighbours and a sense of community has been devastating.
‘During times of peak short-term rental, the impacts can be unbearable as noise and antisocial behaviour have often forced people to move when amenity is lost.
‘For over a decade this issue has been a problem in Byron Bay and it has escalated across other coastal communities.
‘As well as the unplanned impacts on locals, there have been risks for tourists due to the lack of appropriate planning conditions, such as for fire and structural safety.
‘Local government faces a difficult task in addressing housing availability and affordability. This decision clarifies the use of approved residential dwellings for permanent residents, which should free up dwellings to ease the housing stress and ensure that tourism occurs in appropriate areas,’ Ms Barham said.