Holiday-let policy submissions closing

Chris Dobney

A policy that would dramatically change how holiday rental homes are managed is on display at Byron Shire Council, with public submissions closing tomorrow: Friday, December 4.

Called the Short Term Rental Accommodation policy (STRA), it would allow the currently illegal but uncontrolled practice by amending the Byron Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014.

The policy has been through numerous workshops, with all sides of the debate attending, and various council amendments before reaching the current draft stage.

One controversial plan that was dropped was to limit holiday lets to distinctly demarcated zones. But this was rejected by holiday let owners and opponents alike.

Victims broadly support

The group Victims of Holiday Letting, which has long opposed short-term holiday rentals, has now come around to supporting the council’s attempts to control it.

But it says the controls do not go far enough, especially regarding the number of tenants allowed in a property (two per bedroom), the fact that properties let for less than 90 days per year will be exempt and the hours that visitors are allowed on site.

VOHL spokesperson Doug Luke told Echonetdaily, ‘We’ve come round to the view that there should be regulation. We think that with the code of conduct [which holiday-let providers have drawn up] if that could be slightly strengthened, there’s nothing really that restrictive in council’s plan that a well-run holiday-let would find a problem with.

One of the issues that was flagged by Cr Diane Woods was the requirement for the home owner or their representative to attend within 30 minutes if there was a complaint. Cr Woods amended ‘attend’ to ‘contact’.

But Mr Luke stands by this requirement.

‘The guys who are managing 100 properties or more say “we keep a tight lead on our people; we don’t have those problems.”

‘So if a holiday let is managed properly, if they stick to their own code of conduct with just a few extra conditions, we think everybody can win,’ Mr Luke says.

Some of the extra conditions that VOHL would like to see include no spa or pool use after 8pm, no visitors after 10pm and a cap of 10 tenants and 10 visitors to a property regardless of the size.

Mr Luke also took exception to another of Cr Woods’ amendments, changing the maximum number of people to a room to three (rather than two) if the third is a child under five years of age.

‘We think under two is more appropriate,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘Generally a child over two is sleeping in his or her own bed at home and we would expect the same in a holiday let. And let’s face it, a child over two years of age can make as much noise as anyone.’

Pressed on the 10pm ‘curfew’ for visitors, Mr Luke told Echonetdaily, ‘I think we can go to 11pm even though people will be moving to their cars and driving away for another 15 or 20 minutes.’

Fundamentally flawed

But Byron’s Holiday Let Organisation (HLO Byron) believes the strategy is ‘fundamentally flawed’ arguing that legally it cannot be applied to existing dwellings because of it is dependent to changes to the LEP.

HLO spokesperson John Gudgeon told Echonetdaily that ‘given that any change to the LEP can only be prospective, this means that the amendment will only apply to dwellings without current development approval at the time of implementation and to dwellings yet to be built.’

‘Thus it is an ineffective mechanism for its intended use as a compliance tool. It will not apply to dwellings currently available for STRA,’ Mr Gudgeon said.

‘On the other hand, the recognition and proposed adoption of the NSW Code of Conduct for short-term rental is a positive strategy that can work well for the BSC’s overall objectives.

‘Given that there is a parliamentary inquiry into the adequacy of regulation for short-term holiday letting, the BSC should shelve the proposed LEP amendment process pending the outcome. It seems logical that the BSC would welcome a statewide policy that would end the uncertainty that currently prevails,’ Mr Gudgeon said.

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6 responses to “Holiday-let policy submissions closing”

  1. H Mayer says:

    John Gudgeon states that “the strategy is ‘fundamentally flawed’ arguing that legally it cannot be applied to existing dwellings because of it is dependent to changes to the LEP and that ‘given that any change to the LEP can only be prospective, this means that the amendment will only apply to dwellings without current development approval at the time of implementation and to dwellings yet to be built.”
    This is the same argument that he has been trotting out for a decade that holiday letting is legal. HE HAS NOT MADE A CONVINCING ARGUMENT BACKED UP BY ANY CREDIBLE EVIDENCE THAT HOLIDAY LETTING IS CURRENTLY LEGAL. Produce the evidence Mr Gudgeon that holiday letting is legal rather than making broad statements. Otherwise, his credibility is zero.
    Does Mr Gudgeon actually want to solve the problems that holiday letting is creating in damaging residential amenity? His voluntary Code of Conduct in operation for almost 4 years certainly hasn’t done this.

  2. John says:

    John Gudgeon’s argument to prevent Byron Council’s strategy to regulate holiday letting is ” fundamentally flawed” to quote Mr Gudgeon. He argues that any changes cannot be legally applied to existing holiday lets. He is wrong. It can be applied as it is a change of use from being purely a residential domicile to tourist accommodation. The large majority of existing holiday lets do not have development approval for short term holiday letting, unless they are in a commercial zone that previously allowed this.This change to the LEP has been done by several other coastal councils and has already been accepted by the NSW Parliament.

    Mr Gudgeon wants the status quo to remain the same and for holiday let owners to continue their illegal practices with no accountability. There is an increasing number of complaints about holiday letting and this wont change until there is regulation.

  3. Mick says:

    John Gudgeon says that the council should stop its current strategy to change the LEP pending the outcome of the State Parliament inquiry into holiday letting. Further he states that a state policy would end uncertainty. Council currently is trying to end uncertainty. The problem is holiday let owners don’t want any form of regulation. Some even don’t want the John Gudgeon inspired Holiday Rental Code of Conduct. to be applied!

    The parliament Inquiry may not lead to legislation. The then Labor Government promised a statewide policy in 2009. Nothing happened. If something is finally legislated then BSC would then be required to follow that policy. That could be many years in the future. John Gudgeon is attempting to delay as he has successfully done for years.

    Most likely, the State Govt. will follow the Western Australia situation and allow local councils to develop their own policies including charging fees and the ability to apply penalties. This is based on different council areas being affected by holiday letting in different ways. For example, Byron Bay has the reputation of being a party town whereas Bega at the other end of the State is much more sedate and has only a summer peak period attracting families. More stringent controls are necessary in Byron to control the negative aspects of holiday letting.

  4. No bad holiday lets says:

    John Gudgeon says that he is in a state of “uncertainty”. Presumably he also includes the minority group of other holiday let owners, most of them living outside the shire.
    There is no uncertainty for the majority permanent residents of Byron Shire. They are very certain that they are either completely opposed to holiday letting, don’t want it in their neighbourhood or want to see it well regulated.
    There is a way to solve John Gudgeon’s uncertainty. After Council’s holiday letting policy is passed by the NSW Parliament he could take action in the NSW Land and Environment Court. But, he should ensure that he has enough money to pay for his legal fees and Council’s fees (also the ratepayers money) when he inevitably loses. He could appeal but this would not be a wise move. Perhaps the rich fellow holiday let owners can assist.
    The old saying of put up or shut up applies here.

  5. Stop illegal holiday letting says:

    HLO Byron spokesperson John Gudgeon’s argument on holiday letting is the same “fundamentally flawed” rubbish that has been put up by their legal advisers Atherton Legal in Sydney and which has been widely quoted in other media. The holiday lets mob will only listen to an opinion that suits their needs. They don’t care about the needs of the neighbours of holiday lets. Their only interest is to maximise profits with as little effort as possible.

    There is plenty of other opinions, including from NSW Court judges, that says holiday letting is illegal. Their legal opinion would not stand up in a court room.

    • Andrewie says:

      I hope that the majority of holiday let owners are more reasonable and less delusional when compared with their representative swill.

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