Hans Lovejoy & Chris Dobney
A policy to regulate short-term rental accommodation, or holiday letting, will be before councillors tomorrow (Thursday, October 28).
The short-term rental accommodation (STRA) policy was sent to the state government by the previous council, and with advice from the state government now received, it’s back before the new council to consider and vote upon.
But one of the key provisions of the plan is not supported by the state government.
The size of Byron’s problem
The move comes amid revelations from a new website, Inside Airbnb, which shows Byron shire has almost six times more properties listed on the holiday rentals website than any other northern rivers council.
In total 1,483 properties are listed in the shire, with the majority clustered around Byron Bay and Bangalow.
In what could prove a useful tool for council compliance officers, the website estimates the average income per month for each property and its average occupancy rate.
It also distinguishes between whole-house rentals, which would be covered by the new rules, and individual rooms, which would not. A significant majority of Byron shirei rentals offered on the site (62.4 per cent) are for whole homes.
And it estimates those properties that are full-time holiday lets. In Byron’s case the figure sits at an astonishingly high 1,200, or 81 per cent.
By comparison, Tweed has 259 listings, although a slightly higher proportion (70.5 per cent) are whole house rentals.
Ballina has 252 listings, with 69.4 per cent being whole homes. Lismore, despite being a much larger area, has just 92 listings with 68.5 per cent whole-house rentals.
The Parliamentary Counsel’s Office (PCO) have recommended Byron’s holiday-let plan be approved but with some changes to the exempt provisions.
Under the strategy, homes that are up to three bedrooms that are let for under 90 days won’t require a DA, but will be required to register.
Cr Paul Spooner (Country Labor) told The Echo, ‘The state government is not happy with the provision where if more than two verified complaints were received on a property, then it gets taken off the register.
‘Without this, it provides no certainty and the issues we have been confronted with will continue.
‘I’ll be putting a motion forward that will accept some of the things the state are requesting and then negotiate for that provision to remain.’
The staff report notes that the exempt clause greatly expands on what is required in the Gosford and Wyong LEP’s for the same types of activities, which permits holiday letting in four bedroom dwellings throughout the year.
Staff recommend a 12 month moratorium on compliance and also flag that more resources would be required to manage the policy.