22.3 C
Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Limit short-term holiday letting

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Damien Antico, Byron Bay. 

There has been a great deal said about short-term holiday letting (SHTL) in the residential areas of Byron Shire and recently Facebook had over 1,000 comments.

Last Thursday Council finally stood up to offer some support for those legal bed-and-breakfast operators whohave seen their hard-fought DA approvals reduced to just a pieces of paper and watched on as the value oftheir business and properties decreased.

For the last three years anyone could open up their houses and operate B&Bs without a DA, or any approvals to do so, through the Airbnb and similar platfoms. Ultimately all legal operators with Council-approved DAs now have to compete on an un-level playing field.

In their marketplace Airbnb and other internet platforms do not care if you have off-street parking, fire-safety certificates, or third-party insurance protection, let alone disabled access and facilities.

Ultimately this has forced the market price of rentals to unsustainable levels for local people, destroyed any community that may still exist in residential areas as vacant houses are sold with the promise of huge STHL returns.

Further, this inaction has seen house prices soaring, with the promise of STHL revenue, all of which which is completely illegal under our LEP. The same Local Environment Plan that took forever to finish as there was so much community input but that input now appears null and void.

There is a solution, it is quite simple: 90 days’ maximum for any STHL in a residential area, a holiday register for all accommodation to be subscribed to by all operators large and small, with extra rates applying for all STHL properties of more than one bedroom, all bed-and-breakfasts operators letting more than one bedroom need a Council DA or be shut down and fined.

Surely Council could employ three people to look up all the internet platforms and book a room. If successful and if that business is not registered then heavy fines would apply.

Council merely have to vote for a register in Chambers with T&Cs and for a moratorium of six months to apply to those who wish to be accommodation providers to register and as was the case in Germany this Register would certainly settle things down and make more long-term accommodation available as some would consider registration and therefore tax implications simply not worth the effort.

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  1. I agree with so much of this, Damien but 90 days is enough of the year to drive the neighbourhood crazy and may not create the desired incentive for permanent letting. I believe other cities have a strict cap on the number of permits given out for STHL – no more allocated for until some don’t renew. This helps put a brake on the impacts on long-term rental availability, housing affordability and the other detrimental effects you refer to. Permit holders pay fees that make a contribution to the city costs equivalent to that of a commercial operation. There is also a stipulated percentage area of a dwelling that can be let on a share basis. A very insightful ‘Foreign Correspondent’ report on Barcelona showed Council enforcement officers touring the city, knocking on doors and asking the occupants about the nature and duration of their stay. Short-term holiday letting was met promptly with significant fines for the owners.

    We ask neighbours to gather evidence, take photos in the street then probably ignore the results.

  2. Residential housing is for the housing of Residents. From ‘night one’, a short-term tourist/visitor rental is a commercial operation so all legislation pertaining to zoning plus National Building Codes, Fire & Rescue, Disability Access and al other criterion MUST apply.
    Truly, it’s as simple as that.
    Anyone not meeting all legislation is in fact involved in an “Illegal Use of Premises”. See NSW Land and Environment Court case law if in any doubt.
    Airbnb, HomeAway et al have no place in our homes and residential communities.

  3. These good points (including both local and overseas actions) were advised (and known) to the NSW Government and local area Governments many moons ago but they chose to ignore their lawful regulations which then benefitted the promotor’s of this practice namely local Real Estate agents, lobbyists and the Fairfax group who purchased a fledging online service (then purchased others) and sold the collective platform (Stayz) for many, many millions profit a number of years later (to a USA company) BUT ONLY WHEN the ‘black economy’ heat was applied to the NSW Government…. which was then compelled to ‘pull its head out from under the illegal covers’.

    So the ‘bar’ has been set over many years, therefore, what other illegal activity can one create, buy or participate in and receive huge remuneration, reward owners or shareholders and be immuned from prosecution and/or fines (and without ‘black money’ recovery) from the state and local authorities … any ideas?


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