While local Greens and ALP politicians have damned the state government’s recent review of holiday letting, North Coast based Nationals MLC Ben Franklin has moved to defend it.
Greens Cr Michael Lyon led the charge in responding to the state government’s response, saying, ‘as anticipated, the State government has failed the community of Byron Shire, adding they had ‘adopted a one-size fits all policy framework’.
Asren Pugh, the Labor candidate for Ballina, echoed those sentiments, saying the new holiday letting laws ‘don’t go far enough to protect communities in tourist hotspots like Byron Bay’.
But Mr Franklin, who is Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, has welcomed the plan as ‘a good first step in providing long-term certainty’.
‘Currently this area is unregulated, so the government’s reforms are a very welcome first step in this process,’ Mr Franklin said.
Code of conduct
A new mandatory code of conduct will be implemented, which Mr Franklin said would ‘address potential impacts like noise levels, disruptive guests and effects on shared neighbourhood amenities’.
He also defended a new dispute resolution process, which would see Fair Trading given powers to ‘police online platforms and letting agents’.
‘Under the “two strikes and you’re out” policy, hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the code within two years will be banned for five, and be listed on an exclusion register,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘These are the toughest laws in the country and will make sure local residents are protected while ensuring that hosts who do the right thing are not penalized,’ he said.
The new laws give regional councils to limit short-term holiday letting to a maximum of 180 days.
Mr Franklin described this as ‘a welcome move, providing Councils with more control in determining what is appropriate for their communities’.
‘Allowing councils to limit letting to 180 days shows that the Government understands that a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate as every Local Government area faces different challenges,’ he said.
But both Ms Smith and Mr Pugh condemned the 180-day limit as failing to give councils like Byron sufficient control over the extent of holiday-letting the shire.
Mr Pugh described it as ‘simply too high for places like Byron Bay’ adding it ‘won’t do anything to stop renters being forced out of town’.
‘This one size fits all approach that has been designed for apartment blocks in Sydney simply won’t work in our coastal towns like Byron Bay,’ he said.
Cr Lyon said, ‘It would have been simple, give councils the ability to regulate and not allow out-of-town or non-resident landlords to let short-term’.
‘This would protect long-term housing stock and ensure that the community of Byron have places to live,’ he said.
Mr Franklin said, however, there would be room for further changes as the policy will undergo a full review 12 months after it is implemented.
‘Some Councils in our area – particularly the Byron Shire – are unique due to the extraordinarily high number of visitors they receive. This has a substantial impact on our local roads, infrastructure and housing availability,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘Therefore, over the next 12 months I will be facilitating formal discussions with Byron and Ballina Councils, small operators and the community to gain feedback on the impact of the new laws,’ he said.
‘I will then take the results of that feedback back to Macquarie Street and advocate within government for potential local changes when the policy is reviewed,’ he said.
‘I look forward to speaking to all those interested to consider what further changes may be necessary to address our unique local concerns,’ Mr Franklin said.