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.