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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Victims of holiday letting should consider class action

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Jenny Coman, Bangalow

It’s hard to believe that after all the complaints and the horror stories behind them, VOHL (Victims of Holiday Letting) are urging us to ‘actively support’ the proposed holiday letting strategy currently on exhibition by Byron Shire Council (letters, 18/11).

The moment this short-term renting is made legal, there will be absolutely no way it can be controlled and this is what residents really need to understand. Council has been almost completely negligent in enforcing the rules under the current LEP which is still in operation but at least with a workable policy and determined implementation, they still could and surely this should be focus of any new DCP, not the extraordinarily complicated and unrealistic policy on exhibition – and if anyone thinks I’m exaggerating, please try to read the policy on council’s website.

Perhaps it’s time victims of holiday letting – and there are many – should consider a class action against council which has certainly not carried out its ‘duty of care’ towards them; I’d happily support such an action unless council stops wasting our money and staff resources and takes a more sensible and workable approach.

I’d suggest returning to what we had before, amended to suit our changed conditions. Traditionally, some people let their homes during some of the school holidays and council turned a blind eye – unless there were complaints when action was taken. I’d think this not unreasonable and what needs to be spelt out in policy is holiday letting during school holidays only, with fines – I’d make them heavy – for any initial upset to residents and termination of letting if a second complaint is upheld. No short-term letting at any other time of year, no ridiculous ‘categories’ which staff could hardly be expected to actually police (or even administer); in other words keep it simple, manageable and fair – and let us keep our community, which we’re already losing.

I intend to submit along these lines to council and, as opposed to last week’s letter writers, ask that others do also but not in support of making holiday letting legal; give the illegal operators a ‘sunset clause’ – a year or two at most to shut down their illegal operations and warn of action to follow against any non-compliance – and mean it; the illegals are easily found on the net.

 


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4 COMMENTS

  1. I mainly agree with Jenny Coman’s analysis. However, legal action at the moment would be unlikely to succeed because any LEC judge would examine the current effort by Byron Council and then reserve their decision.
    I agree with VOHL’s support for precincts or zones, but it is obvious that this is not going to be accepted by the Planning Dept. in Sydney. The next best thing is to have strong regulations in a DCP that will keep many of the problems under control. The unscrupulous operators are unlikely to apply for registration. A strong DCP is more likely to be accepted by Pru Goward’s staff.

  2. Jenny, I will be very happy to join you in a class action. I presume you will be the organiser and pay the legal fees. I look forward to seeing your notice in the Echo in the very near future.

  3. After 15 years of trying to ban holiday letting at both local and state government level nothing has happened so why not give this regulating option a try? As Jack Nicholson (the actor) said “this is as good as it gets”. Either give it a go or wait another 10 years with nothing happening. If Western Australia has the courage to regulate holiday letting (with great success) ,then why can’t we .
    Sometimes being flexible and looking at a solution that will satisfy the majority is better than sticking to your guns and ending up dead.
    Sure the LEP may state that “tourist Accomodation” is an illegal activity but how many people abide by rules.
    In Busselton they actually had holiday homes revert back to permanent rental after the introduction of a regulated system.
    So if you want to leave us with another 3 years of fighting in the courts for no real result except sending Byron Shire broke then go ahead .

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