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Byron Shire
December 1, 2022

Council ‘can’t act’ over Byron woman’s Airbnb woes

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Photo: AirbnbSecrets
Photo: AirbnbSecrets

A Byron Bay resident has told The Echo that Byron Shire Council staff have been unable to act on her complaints about her neighbours’ Airbnb activities, which she says are so intrusive she has had to buy earplugs.

‘I’m 71 years old and have been here 21 years,’ she told The Echo.

‘Over those years, I have done thousands of hours of community work, yet Council are unable to help me by enforcing compliance against this activity.

‘I’m suffering from stress and sleep deprivation because of this,’ she said.

After she asked Byron Shire Council to intervene, she says council compliance inspected the neighbour’s property.

‘I just got a letter from the council which said there are “no compliance issues identified at this moment”.’

The issue arose after her neighbours renovated their house. ‘They moved the entrance of their one bedroom Airbnb premises to be under my bedroom window.’

She says no DA was required to move the doorway entrance to the Airbnb-let premises.   

‘Guests used to go through another entrance,’ she said, ‘which was closer to the neighbour’s own entrance. 

‘They moved the problem, without asking me.’

The council compliance officer could only suggest earplugs and mediation.

‘I’m not interested in mediation as I believe these people won’t change,’ she said. ‘Apparently people coming up a driveway doesn’t constitute a noise complaint.

‘Whatever was said to the compliance officer, he argued it was within their legal rights. What about my rights?’

The woman says she has also documented to staff 74 times she has been woken up by late night visitors.

Once friendly

‘We were very friendly at one time, she says of her neighbours, adding they are a couple in the mid-50s who moved from Sydney two years ago.

‘Originally the woman wanted to start a yoga class in the garage, but that never happened; instead they are making heaps of money from Airbnb.

‘It’s booked consistently,’ she says. ‘They don’t even provide breakfast or parking, so it’s not really a proper Airbnb. There is a sense of entitlement with people like this – people are moving here and thinking they can do whatever they want.

‘After a few drinks, visitors come back up the driveway. Even though it wakes me up, I am told it’s not my problem. I bought a home in Byron Bay because I wanted to hear the ocean, but instead I have to wear earplugs.’

She added that around 16 years ago, she was part of a community group that called upon the council to act on holiday letting.

‘We handed a 6,000-signature petition to council yet there’s not been much enforcement of this activity.’

‘I just want the door to be restored to the original entrance,’ she said.

‘While I’m not against Airbnb altogether, I don’t accept Byron is just a holiday town and that we just have to put up with it.’

Staff reply

In reply, Byron Shire Council’s legal services co-ordinator Ralph James confirmed the council received a complaint from a Byron Bay resident in October who said the noise from a bed and breakfast operating next door to her property was disturbing her. 

Mr James told The Echo, ‘Staff inspected the property, which is in a low-density residential zone, and found the door to the bed and breakfast was near the window of the person who had made the noise complaint.

‘A one-bedroom bed and breakfast accommodation in this area is permissible and does not require development consent and according to planning law, the bed and breakfast is legally allowed to operate.

‘Council understands the difficulty some people face when living in areas where guest accommodation is allowed,’ he said.

Perceptions

‘If the noise is determined to be “offensive,” council can serve prevention notices requiring the control of the offensive noise.

‘People do, however, have different perceptions about the definition of “offensive”so generally this type of noise is defined as continuous and loud, for example a barking dog, noisy appliances or regular parties.

‘If this is the case then people can seek a noise abatement order,’ James said.

#Name withheld to protect her neighbour’s identity.

Airbnb listings up nearly 80 per cent

According to www.insideairbnb.com, there has been a 79.6 per cent increase in Airbnb listings for Byron Shire in the last 18 months.

From April 2, 2016 to October 21, 2017, listings have increased from 1,483 to 2,665. Listings on Airbnb are tracked by www.insideairbnb.com, which includes an interactive map displaying what Airbnb properties are available. 

The majority of short-term Airbnb holiday lettings appear to be entire houses and apartments, with whole dwellings increasing from 62.4 per cent to 75.9 per cent of total listings, according to the website.

Victim of Holiday Letting (VOHL)’s David Wallace told The Echo, ‘Airbnb has now overtaken Stayz as the major online disruptor.

‘Some holiday lets don’t advertise on Airbnb.

‘VOHL estimates that there is now 3,000 holiday lets in Byron Shire.’

Councillors were told at Thursday’s meeting that staff have prepared a holiday letting case for prosecution, which they intend to take to the Land and Environment Court. Details are confidential at this stage.


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16 COMMENTS

  1. I completely sympathise with the women in this story who is a victim of holiday letting. I know how she feels.

    If disturbed by late night drunken holiday let occupants she is legally entitled to start her mower on full throttle opposite the door to this holiday let and do some mowing. State legislation say that this can be legally done from 7am Monday to Saturday and from 8am on Sundays and public holidays.

    Perhaps the arrogant owners will get the message to actually manage the property and control noise from their so called “guests”.

  2. I would council you to make sure of ALL the FACTS concerning this particular story.

    And then perhaps you might not make such assumptions such as mowing lawns and moving from Sydney.

    • I agree, get your facts straight. The photo accompanying the article is from a Canadian website – nothing to do with Byron Bay.

  3. Byron is a sad state of affairs. Ugly and Fake. I suggest she move out of town where the real community is. Mullum or Lismore maybe.

  4. This photo was of a party house in Canada, presumably used to sensationalise a local story. The woman’s allegations have not been verified and we all know that there are two sides to every story. Council are just doing their job, to ensure compliance with existing legislation. As for the bigoted comments about people from Sydney, where does this xenophobia end?

    • Margaret, I agree that the photo was not taken in Byron Shire. There are a number of photos taken of party houses in illegal holiday lets in the shire. There are two sides to situations. The neighbours side has been verified as correct.

      Council is doing its job to ensure compliance with existing legislation. That is why they have started proceedings against an illegal holiday let which will end up in the Land and Environment Court. Illegal holiday letting is development without consent and is a prohibited activity in Byron Shire’s R2 residential zones.

      In my area during the past 2 years, every home sold has been purchased by people not only from Sydney, but Melbourne and Brisbane. Every home that was a permanent dwelling for a family has been turned into an illegal holiday let.

      • John…
        not sure of what you don’t understand but…..

        Again I would council anyone , before they make comments and assumptions to acquaint themselves with the truth , facts of this particular complaint.

        Barbara seemed able to grasp my suggestion.

        Perhaps you have a biased disposition to this topic.

        No I am not an illegal holiday let owner.

        I find your assumptions of my character, like Frank’s and Kate arrogant.
        This same behaviour has been bestowed on members of our community who do not deserve the aforementioned.

        I would suggest you look towards the individual who complained and acquaint yourself with the what motivated this.

        • Kim Collins, you need to use a spell check. The “council” you are referring to is spelt “counsel”.Do you have a spelling problem.? Are you the owner of this one bedroom bed and breakfast? If so, you need to check that you are abiding by the terms of Byron Shire’s LEP amendment to make this legal. Do some research.It appears that this is not happening. The occupants of this one bedroom bed and breakfast are making offensive noise and disturbing the sleep of a neighbour. You need to familiarise yourself with NSW noise laws and institute some rules with your occupants not to disturb your neighbour. If this is done then the issue is resolved.Otherwise you will have a noise abatement order from the local court or Council issued against you.

          If you are the owner of this STRA, then get your act together to stop this damage to residential amenity by instituting some rules with the occupants. The Byron Shire community and Council have had enough of damage to residential amenity from selfish, arrogant people who do not care about damage to this community from holiday letting. I am familiar with all the arguments and Airbnb propaganda about the benefits of holiday letting but can rip it to shreds.

  5. A prosecution is the dumbest, least effective, most expensive, most likely to fail course of action. Council know this. If a result was sought, penalty notices would be served. No cost, fuss, bother, or delays.

    But, you voted for these arseholes.

    • A very accurate photo depiction of what happens at party houses in illegal holiday lets in Byron Shire, Henry. A world wide monstrous and cancerous growth spreading through communities. Ban short term holiday letting. Residential zones are for residents which gives permanency, not creation of instant hotels.

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