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.’
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.
For more visit www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/holiday-letting/faqs#12414.