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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Tweed shire grapples with booming Illegal holiday lets

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By Luis Feliu

Tweed shire councillors are set to consider what, if any, action should be taken over illegal holiday letting as they grapple with the issue of short-term rentals in the face of a booming market.

Recent complaints over a property in the upmarket Casuarina estate on the Tweed Coast alleged to be used as a ‘party house’ had left Tweed Shire Council planners in a dilemma over whether to prosecute the owners, given council and state policies on short-term rentals are yet to be finalised.

Planners have recommended no immediate enforcement action be taken over the complaints involving a pool party and other functions at Beason Court, Casuarina, until the state’s policy position was known.

But councillors could overturn their recommendation at next Thursday’s planning committee meeting and decide to take enforcement action for the owners to cease the illegal holiday letting or face a $3,000 fine.

Council chief planner Vince Connell in his report said short-term rental accommodation has ‘accelerated rapidly’ recently  ‘as a result of the internet providing a cheap and effective means of promoting this form of accommodation’.

‘Holiday letting agencies such as Airbnb, Stayz and Trivago have expanded exponentially, and are commonly utilised for accommodation bookings within the Tweed Shire,’ Mr Connell said.

In February and March, council received several complaints from neighbours of the premises at 6 Beason Court where it was alleged there had been a recent pool party there involving ’40 people with bottles everywhere’, the street ‘packed full of cars, and that it was a ‘party house and not safe for our children to play on the street’ with ‘drunk strangers out on the street with drinks and smoking’.

Mr Connell said that council’s publicly-exhibited draft planning-control policy for short-term letting should be deferred until the NSW government parliamentary inquiry into the adequacy of regulating short-term holiday letting in the state was completed, expected later this year.

He said that as a result of the  delay, there is currently ‘no clear policy decision on any new planning controls affecting uses already in operation’.

He said councillors had previously indicated that enforcement action should be limited to instances of illegal use which were ‘creating significant impacts for surrounding residents’.

‘It is therefore recommended that,in light of council’s previous resolution on this matter, as well as the latest announcement by the NSW State Government, that no further enforcement action be taken in respect of unauthorised short term rental uses until a firmer policy position is introduced by the NSW State Government,’ Mr Connell said.

However, he said council officers would ‘continue to monitor the impacts of any unauthorised short term rental accommodation such as the activity at No. 6 Beason Court, Casuarina, but will not take enforcement action (fines or legal action) against the owners of properties containing these uses, unless they were creating unreasonable amenity impacts for adjoining or surrounding residents’.

‘In these instances, a report will be submitted to council to determine appropriate action.’

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  1. What a “cop out”. Shame on you Tweed Council. You have a legal responsibility and duty of care to protect your residents. Fine the owner and issue noise abatement orders. If that doesn’t work then take them to the LEC for non compliance with existing planning laws. Don’t hold your breath for a viable state policy that will protect residential amenity.

  2. YES Byron and Tweed need to stand up and stop being gutless about this problem in our communities. People live and work here let’s look after our locals not the greedy that use the place just to make $$$$

  3. I don’t get it. 3 or 4 years ago Byron Shire Council kicked 6 families and individuals out of a block of storage sheds in the Byron Industrial Estate that were renting and living in concrete storage sheds (no running water, no sewage, no toilets) by threatening the owner of the sheds with a $100k fine (or so it has been said), and everyone was gone withing 2 weeks and there has not been another attempt at colonising the storage sheds since then. End of problem.
    How does that differ from owners of residential properties turning their residential ‘investment ‘ houses into commercial holiday lets?
    I smell a rat in the wood pile. All councilors should be required to disclose any financial interest they have in residentially zoned properties being rented to short term holiday clients. Real Estate companies managing illegal holday lets should be put on notice that they will be fined for renting private homes as holiday lets.
    Something positive needs to be done for the sake of the rate paying folks that just want to live and raise their kids in a residential zoned house.

  4. Gutless response council.
    The owners of this property only care about making money. They live overseas and have had complaints about their house for 3 years. They have no regard for the rights of any of their neighbors.
    Residents don’t want to have to repetitively complain to council for action.
    Do something!
    It’s simple. It is illegal. Stop it. Close it down.

  5. Across NSW, Local Government Staff should be mandated to enforce Planning and Zoning legislation. If they won’t do their jobs, they shouldn’t have them. The social and financial impacts of short-term letting in residential housing are profound and devastating.
    Our NSW Land & Environment Court has repeatedly and consistently judged mixing short-term lets with permanent residents “fundamentally incompatible”. We know; we’ve had to live with them.
    Residential Housing is, by its very name and nature, for the housing of Residents.

  6. So I don’t understand, does this property not constitute ‘creating significant impacts for surrounding residents’. And if not what does ‘creating significant impacts for surrounding residents’ actually mean? Perhaps it means ‘If council receives x amount of complaints on a property’ so lets all complain. Complain, complain, complain.


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