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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Holiday letting again in Byron council’s sights

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Byron Shire Council compliance staff will again be looking into unauthorised holiday letting after Greens Cr Michael Lyon’s motion was supported (Cr Hunter against) at last Thursday’s meeting.

It lifts a moratorium on prosecutions, which ceased a number of years ago.

Cr Michael Lyon told The Echo, ‘We intend to obtain records from people such as letting agents and website hosts in order to build the cases and prosecute unlawful short-term rental.’

‘It has become a menace in this town and is destroying the fabric of our community. A quick glance in The Echo classifieds from last week, three years ago and six years ago, shows that there are next to no places for long-term rent available now, or share accommodation which wasn’t as bad as three years ago and it was a far better situation six years ago.

‘In the past, the effect of STRA was manageable because we didn’t have the online systems such as Airbnb that we have now. We are not getting any help from the state government on this issue but more and more communities around the world are understanding the trimental effect this is having on their communities and they are demanding quite rightly that their local representatives stand up for them and preserve their ability to stay in their towns.

‘We need to translate this into dialogue with state government that addresses these concerns and ensures the sustainability of our local culture and community.’

Cr Lyon’s motion also asks staff to ‘Compile a confidential list of properties against which it may commence legal proceedings based on the establishment of a prima-facie case of unauthorised short-term rental accommodation and unauthorised tourist and visitor accommodation, and that this list is compiled as soon as possible.’

Mayor Simon Richardson told his followers on social media, ‘We have no choice but to jump back into the trenches and fire off litigation missiles.’

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  1. This is a move in the right direction. Unfortunately, it should have been done 10 years ago. Then we would not have the problem of damage to our community and a crisis in affordable rental housing that we have today.

    Expect the top lawyers from Airbnb (with $31 billion in assets) and Stayz to be out in force. Bring it on Airbnb!

  2. “Looking into….” We need some action to be taken, we need communication from the Mayor,we need to know timeframes for when we can expect a result. So far all we have heard on this is wishy washy. If short term accommodation is illegal then do something about it,

    Council could start by looking at Air BnB sites and STAYs. If they are on there and not approved then fine them and close them down. Yes this is simplistic and requires a process but for goodness sake DO IT! And stop your procrastinating.

    If there is a good reason why Council can not act immediately on theses illegal lets then our Mayor needs to communicate in plain speak and tell us what is stopping them.

  3. As long as they issue penalty notices, there is zero risk of expensive litigation. Richardson never ceases to bullshit, I will be congratulating Michael Lyon on this.

  4. I do love a great Byron shire council beat up article, there are a number of issues here that require consideration and the Bryon Shire council need to stop acting as if they are the gestapo and start doing things about improving Byron for all, rather than raging witch hunts

    So firstly they are going to obtain records for assisting in prosecuting persons, i don’t believe any website host is going to breach our closely guarded privacy laws and provide any details of their clients. – good luck with that one BSC

    The statements above on the rental availability comparing availability of 3 and 6 years ago are amusing suggesting that holiday letting has ruined the town, are the echo forgetting that the world fell into a big black hole from 2008 – 2011 where property values were written down, there were no jobs (which is fine if you are a local byron dole bludger) but the rest of use actually had to go work in mining areas and larger cities to be able to pay our bills….the whole economy was on go slow 6 years ago…

    1) the council sprukes holiday letting as illegal – in simple terms and by definition by law it isn’t (simple fact)
    2) They spruke that the holiday letting has made the town “un-affordable” – Not True the reason real estate is expensive is because of the simple “supply and demand” its a land locked suburb close to beautiful beaches, with a high demand, not so different from many other coastal towns. Holiday letting did not cause this issue.
    3) if council were not so anti development and perusing bull$hit agendas then maybe some of the surrounding land could be rezoned for affordable housing.
    4) Council need to stop wasting our money on BS legal fights, they need to grow up and start becoming more realistic rather than idealistic.
    5) The reason why Bryon is so lively is because of tourism, simple fact but no tourism = no dollars spent = no jobs. So if there were no jobs in our town then are we to assume that its councils desire to want a welfare dependent community – because these types of communities works so well in other parts of the country.

    I do not disagree that there are some properties out there that are doing the wrong thing and have no concern for their fellow neighbor, however there are other well known properties in Byron that are permanent residents that cause more noise and disruption to neighbors than those that may be rented out to guests. Byron council like to deflect some of their own shortcomings and performance an a totally incompetent council and like to blame one cause as the root of all byron’s problems.

    They need to stop being a reactive council to the blabbering minority and start planning for a better byron future.

    • Well said and factual Frank. How noisy do you think a 5 bedroom home would be rented out to 5 couples? Have council thought of that situation? Holiday rentals not only attract tourists, who spend money but hire cleaners, pool cleaners, window cleaners, carpet cleaners, garden staff etc. This keeps locals in jobs. Obtaining data from website’s and letting agencies? Truly.

      • The only thing I agree with Louise, is your statement that obtaining lists of illegal holiday lets on a “fishing expedition” is not legally viable. There are many other ways of obtaining addresses of illegal holiday lets. Many neighbours who have had their residential amenity disrupted by illegal holiday let occupants have provided addresses to Council Enforcement.

        The stated jobs that you describe are not exactly permanent jobs. The industry is casualised. Many of these people also service those who live permanently in the Shire. How many are paid cash in hand and do not declare income to the ATO?

    • Frank Barnes, you are either an apologist for illegal holiday letting or an illegal holiday let owner. You state that holiday letting is legal. Presumably, you are referring to those illegal lets found in R2 residential zones. Despite the propaganda put out by HLO Byron and the HRIA there is no evidence to support this so called legality. There certainly is plenty of evidence ln legal case law to support the fact that holiday letting in Byron Shire is an illegal and prohibited activity in R2 zones.

      Frank, do some research into the numerous NSW Land and Environment Court cases that have shown this illegality during the past 30 years.


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