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Byron Shire
April 10, 2021

Illegal holiday letting opposed

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Victims of Holiday Letting (VOHL) strongly oppose unregulated and problematic illegal holiday letting in Byron Shire.

Our members have been subjected to behaviour from holiday let occupants that has detrimentally impacted their amenity over a long period.

When VOHL was formed, we requested Byron Shire Council to undertake its fundamental duty and   responsibility to prosecute the illegal holiday lets in 2a(R2) Residential Zones.

There were several legal precedents to support this including Dobrohottof vs Bennic (2013) in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

VOHL supports the current effort by Council to develop a Holiday Letting Strategy to enable regulation.

We attended a meeting on 27 May with councillors and staff to examine Council’s Discussion Paper through a workshop process. From our considerable research we made our comments and submitted our proposals.

We have provided information to show that the proposed potential holiday let zones or precincts are too large. These can be seen at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/new-forward-planning.

We would like council to map the location of known permanent holiday lets. We suggest that streets which have minimal or no holiday lets be excised from the potential zones or precincts.

We welcome a strong Development Control Plan which will help regulate holiday letting. We want a legal independent entity such as Council to be the final regulating and registering authority.

All potential holiday lets should go through a DA process so that the public have the ability to make submissions. A commercial rate should be applied to all holiday let businesses.

Any future policy should require the owners or managers of holiday lets to have management strategies in place to prevent and control problem behaviour of renters such as offensive noise.

It should not be the police or council that has to do this. At our meeting with Council it was generally agreed that registration would be cancelled after 2 substantiated complaints.

A holiday let should be registered for a certain number of guests to a maximum of three bedrooms with two people per bedroom.

We have recommended that Council adopt the policy that some coastal WA councils have instituted that the maximum number of people on the premises at any one time be no more than the number of guests for which the let is registered.

This would help to resolve the issue of a holiday let being used as a party/function house which has created amenity problems for neighbours in the past.

Our reasoned approach is in contrast to the response of the holiday let lobby, which had a separate meeting with Council on 24 June. Their comments can be seen in the web link provided.

They don’t want zones or precincts and want holiday letting to occur anywhere. They don’t want a full commercial rate applied and it appears that they would like to be the registering authority.

Voluntary self-regulation by the vested interests has already proven ineffective.

Doug Luke, Co-ordinator VOHL, Byron Bay

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  1. I completely agree with VOHL’s policy and their approach. All that is required is a council that is willing and able to have regulations and processes in place to stop the problems that cause so much disruption to the lives of the neighbours surrounding holiday lets..

    What is the HLO doing to work with the neighbours of these holiday lets to solve these problems .HLO were saying that holiday letting was legal until May 2013 with the Land and Environment Court judgement. If they had done their research before this then they would have clearly seen that it was illegal. Does HLO actually talk to neighbours of holiday lets and seek their opinion? I haven’t heard of any instances of this happening.

    • It is encouraging to see Byron Council finally doing something about the holiday lets problem. The illegal holiday lets owners won’t like this, as they want to delay as long as possible so that they can rake in as much money as possible. I am looking forward to scrutinising the fine detail of the Council Holiday Lets Policy, as there are bound to be weaknesses that any unscrupulous holiday let owner ( there are many) will take advantage of. I’m also interested in the management strategy that HLO will put forward to prevent and control problems.
      There should be no exempt development as any potential future holiday let could cause problems for the surrounding neighbours. It doesn’t matter whether a holiday let is permanent, let out for a maximum of 60 days a year, or, for only one day a year, they should all go through the DA process and then be registered.

  2. Thank you VOHL for providing the web link. I didn’t know that this existed, but found a lot of interesting information. I am pleased to see the council staff putting in the effort in an attempt to control holiday letting. But, they appear to be coming up against a number of barriers, as shown by the comments given at the second meeting, from the holiday lets lobby
    . I laughed when I saw the comment from the holiday lets group where they said that the problems were due to behaviour! They are correct, but whose behaviour are they referring to? Are they referring to their own behaviour in undertaking an illegal prohibited activity or the behaviour of their holiday let occupants who they allow into their property? If it is the latter, then the occupants who cause problems have gotten past their so called “vetting system”. I wonder what is this “vetting system” ? Do the occupants have to produce references, or, is it just a valid credit card?
    I also laughed at their comment that they objected to the use of planning controls as a tool, presumably to control problem behaviour of their tenants. Is this too hard for them to comprehend or will it make running a holiday let a bit difficult for them? With attitudes like this, where they don’t care about the rest of the community, I can’t see much changing!

    • I agree that holiday let owners are undertaking illegal prohibited activities by letting out their home for short periods. How can they justify this law breaking? Many probably see others doing it and getting away with it or feel like they can do what they like with their property (‘king or queen of their own castle”).
      What galls me is that councillors and council staff have sought the opinion of these law breakers. I’m sure they heard what they expected i.e. minimal regulations and controls.

  3. It is certainly time something gets done. I fully agree with with the VOHL statements, asking HLO to comment is of course a joke as all have strong commercial interests in keeping unregulated holiday letting to run as long as possible.

    Official holiday accommodation across the shire is more and more disadvantaged. AirBnb alone shows over 600 spaces for holiday rental and a minute proportion of those are legal. The rest doesn’t pay commercial rates, GST (and possibly income tax). Legal holiday accommodation businesses are doing it tougher and eventually have to cut corners to compete with those whose expenses are only a fraction or theirs.

    When will the council step in !!

  4. As a regular visitor to Byron from Melbourne, and seriously considering retiring to this beautiful part of the world, I have been following the holiday lets saga for a number of years. My impression is that many equate holiday let owners with “dirty words”. I will follow with interest the actions of the council.
    I certainly would not want to buy a home where there are holiday lets nearby. Not only would they have the potential to disturb neighbourhood amenity but I believe they would reduce the re-sale value of any home when it comes to selling. I hope the council does the right thing for the permanent residents.


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