Byron council has 180 holiday-lets in its sights

Manager of Santos Organics and Greens councillor Michael Lyon. Photo Jeff Dawson

Byron Shire Council is currently monitoring 180 holiday-let premises in the shire and has already issued notices to two of them advising them to cease, according to Cr Michael Lyon (Greens).

‘Council staff have been working hard to progress two cases and have now issued notices of proposed orders, with development control orders to soon follow to require the ceasing of the activity,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘Separate to this, prosecutions under a different arm of the EPA act are being pursued for past breaches and the hearings are expected to be held shortly,’ he added.

In a 2014 case involving an unauthorised holiday-let property in Gosford, the court ruled its use was ‘prohibited and constituted development without consent in breach of s 76B of the EPA Act’.

In Byron Shire, Cr Lyon says there are currently ‘over 180 properties that we are actively looking into which are suspected of unauthorised STHL’.

Residents who are concerned about unauthorised short-term holiday letting (STHL) can visit the Council web page on STHL and report it, and staff will follow up.

Estate agents, platforms may be liable

Cr Lyon says letters have also been issued to real estate agents in the area, ‘after Council received legal advice suggesting that agents may also be liable for the use of the property if they facilitated a breach of the EPA act’.

‘What is also potentially exciting, is that the reasoning in the case the advice, also suggests that we can target the online platforms too if they facilitate breaches of the EPA act,’ he added.

Cr Lyon added that ‘in Byron, it is essential that entire homes where there is not normally a permanent resident must be returned to the pool of long-term lets’.

‘This pool has become more of a puddle in Byron,’ he added.

Ripping community apart

‘Only last week, a family I know that needed to move, with two full-time working parents, has had to relocate out of the Suffolk Park area due to the lack of availability and affordability of suitable housing.

He said that a call by the minister for more research across NSW ‘will only help’ but added the Coastal Councils Association ‘has already commissioned detailed research and in the case of Byron the jury is in and the verdict delivered’.

‘Unregulated STHL of entire homes on Airbnb and Stayz is ripping our community apart. We must be allowed to rule out certain types of lets.

‘Registration and regulation are essential tools to ensure proper compliance and it is encouraging that the state government appears to be moving in this direction.

‘There has been concern that the lobbying and political donations from the billion dollar platforms might lead to poor decisions here, but there is hope yet,’ Cr Lyon said.


11 responses to “Byron council has 180 holiday-lets in its sights”

  1. Penny Young says:

    All they have to do is go through channels and get approval.

    This MUST stop.

    Council have a good thing going by stopping this ‘illegal’ trade.

  2. Margot says:

    I also recently became a ‘statistic’ – a single older woman on a pension, pushed out after 17 years as a renter in Suffolk. Not much available and all twice the price of what I have been paying- and mostly half as good. .plus no one wants to sign rent assistance forms! Depressing.I also lost my long term community. The storage facility in the industrial estate where my things are, told me that imy situation is now a common story. The day I signed up there, I met another woman there who I know …over 70, single and recently informed by her landlord that her 15 year rental in Myocum is to become an Airbnb property.
    Thanks for taking this on Council. Byron shire is my home and I resent being told that at 65 plus I should,consider share housing,moving to Lismore etc.etc please just open up more genuine affordable housing options. Otherwise we all lose the diversity which is part of what makes this place so special.

  3. Harry says:

    Finally, is the long wait over?
    Time will tell, but our optimism is cautious as yet.

  4. Jan Curtis says:

    Should have happened years ago.

  5. Mandi says:

    Can you please give more information in regards to the political donations from these billion dollar overseas platforms. I think that would make for a great factual story that people need to know. Have the liberals been taking money from these companies that are killing our communities?

  6. John says:

    When are the NSW land and Environment Court prosecutions that Byron Shire council said would happen going to begin? Can Cr Michael Lyons answer this?

  7. Dan says:

    STHL…nearly as damaging as two thousand road workers taking scarce local accommodation.

    Oops…let’s not mention that one!

  8. louisa says:

    Can I just ask, where the @#? are all the lovely festival and event goers, that council approves the development of and for which there are now 100’s per year, going to stay during their visit to Byron Bay to participate in, OR all the wedding guests that arrive to attend their beloved’s wedding OR the holiday makers who make their annual pilgrimage to Byron OR the weekend warriors who beseech the town every weekend.
    Part of this problem lies directly with council, who participate in and promote tourism, and who permit and give development consents to all these festivals and events.
    Be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you !!!!
    As always I promote commonsense and a degree of fairness.
    Extremely large houses are going to attract large numbers of guests, theby creating the major part of the social issues, noise, partying til late in the night etc
    Yet council keeps approving extremely large houses that are obviously going to be used for holiday accommodation.
    Oh, back to council and their part in all of this.
    Council should be very careful not to point the finger as it may come apointing back to them.

    • Harry says:

      Louisa,the answer to your question is extremely easy and simple. Visitors and tourists to Byron Shire can stay in legally approved accommodation, not the illegal short term holiday lets. Traditional accommodation, such as B and B’s, hotels and motels have been legally approved by Council to meet Building Code of Australia class 1(a) or class 3 standards. They also follow the Commonwealth Disability Access to Premises legislation, fire safety standards, pay a GST, pay commercial council rates and so on.

      Tourist and visitor accommodation as represented by illegal holiday letting in residential zones is a prohibited activity and development without consent. As one NSW Land and Environment Court judge said in their judgement “mixing short term holiday letting with residential is fundamentally incompatible.”

  9. Liz says:

    I have been waiting more than 20 years for a reply from Council to a letter outlining the impact of a STHL on my premises. At that stage in the Shire’s evolution/now revolution there was some chance of doing something to halt or regulate the scourge that this phenomenon has become on our population. I wonder how much of a couldn’t-care-less approach other aggrieved citizens have encountered over the years. It would be nice to think that something is finally about to happen but right on the eve of the NSW Government’s determination on the issue may be a bit late for the stable door.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsors Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina and Falls Festival Byron Bay.