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Byron B&B providers meet to oppose holiday-letting laws

A group of approved accommodation providers have declared war on holiday-letting in Byron Shire. Photo: AirbnbSecrets

Controversy is heating up over the state’s new short-term holiday letting laws with a bill that would effectively entrench the practice being successfully passed through the lower house in June. It is due to be voted on in the upper house on August 14.

Angered by the proposed laws, a large group of Byron Shire’s approved accommodation operators are set to meet Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) this Thursday to discuss stopping them in their tracks.

The group is even considering taking a class action against the government.

365-day holiday lets

The Fair Trading Amendment (Short-term rental accommodation) Bill 2018 will allow hosts in rural and regional NSW to holiday-let their properties every day of the year without needing to submit a development application (DA) to their local council.

Victoria McEwen, spokesperson for the Byron Hinterland Collective, said the playing field was already tilted against the many approved accommodation operators in Byron Shire who had either bought an established property or gone through an exhaustive DA process, ‘when an AirBnB host is not going to any of this trouble or expense’.

She added the bill would’ allow anyone to run a pop-up hotel with no prior due diligence’.

‘The problems we have already suffered across the community with unaffordable housing, minimal rental stock, social hollowing and party houses will simply spiral out of control,’ Ms McEwen said.

‘We had 2,000 Airbnb hosts in Byron Shire last year and this year we’re up to almost 3,000. There are only 15,000 dwellings in the shire, so that’s 20 per cent of our homes already being used for Airbnb. And that’s not including other short-term holiday letting websites such as Luxico, Stayz, HomeAway, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor. The degradation in the community will only get worse if this new bill is passed.’

‘If the state government passes this bill, they are essentially deregulating an already regulated industry. And there is a groundswell of anger brewing amongst approved operators who have done the right thing by the law. All we want is the same rules and the same costs for everyone.’ said Mrs McEwen, who is an owner of guesthouses in Byron Bay.

Class action considered

She also fired a warning shot, indicating that the government could potentially see a class action brought by approved accommodation providers if it went ahead with the new bill.

‘Unregulated operators such as Airbnb hosts [need] to be lodging a DA and paying the same costs as we are, not being given the green light to pay nothing for council compliance or set-up costs,’ she said.

Ms McEwen flagged that without proper regulations and permits in place, holiday-makers using short-term holiday lets could be at risk.

‘If this bill is passed, an Airbnb host will be able to get away with not having any fire safety in place, no food safety checks, no requirements for disability access and no car parking requirements. We already pay significantly higher commercial rates and developer contributions for the upkeep of our roads, why is the state government allowing this problem to get worse?’

‘We will end up with the same mess that happened with the taxi industry when taxi plates had to be bought back because of Uber.

‘What we need is a system that is robust and protects the interests of our community,’ she said.

Unique destination

In the event the bill is passed, the group is calling on the upper house to back a Greens amendment that would give local councils the ability to manage short-term holiday letting within their own LEPs.

‘Every council is different and Byron Shire is a unique destination that needs its own management that is specific to the needs of the Byron community.’

The group also called into question the ethics of MPs who have holiday-let homes and apartments themselves voting on the bill.

‘In any other voting system this would be considered a conflict of interest. We call on Members of Parliament who have such a conflict of interest to declare their conflict and abstain from voting on this bill,’ Ms McEwen said.

‘We are asking all approved accommodation Operators in Byron Bay, Tweed Heads, Ballina, Lismore and from across the State to join our Facebook group. We need your voice,’ Ms McEwen said.

The meeting will take place at 1:30pm at the Cavanbah Centre, Ewingsdale Rd, Thursday 26 July 2018,

 


5 responses to “Byron B&B providers meet to oppose holiday-letting laws”

  1. Bob says:

    Ms McEwen should capitalise on the Airbnb phenomenon and list her properties through this channel.

    • John Adams says:

      Bob you have no idea what costs apply to a fully registered-compliant accommodation b&b. Non permanent rental properties in Victoria are about to change that they are will have to have building inspection ,Health Safety & Fire and be registered with the relevant Council, if they have 4 or more people stay. These non permanent rentals don’t comply at the moment and if they also provide a breakfast hampers they then come under strict food handling registrations as well. I bet you didn’t know that the MetData from the medicare card shows that the owner of that house doesn’t live there and the information collected affects Government Grants ,for medical and hospitals and schooling etc .
      Airbnb startend of where you could list rental with another room in your house where you live,It is causing now loss of permanent rentals ,driving up the ones that are available and did you also know that if you rent out your non registered prescribed accommodation you won’t be covered by Insurance / public liability if you declare what you are using for non permanent rentals. Then there is the Gst / Tax avoidance issues

  2. Harold says:

    I have every sympathy with legitimate and DA approved traditional accommodation providers such as B and B’s. The advent of Airbnb and other holiday letting online disruptors has created an uneven “playing field.”

    There are 3 Green MP’s in the NSW Parliament. One of them said 2 years ago that with the rise of Airbnb, traditional B and B’s are “dead”.

    Correcting some information in the article:
    1. The bill will be debated in the Upper House when Parliament resumes on Tuesday August 7. The business program is on the NSW Parliament website.
    2. This bill only will allow for short term rental accommodation in strata. That is apartment blocks and land that has a strata title and comes under Fair Trading Minister Mat Kean’s jurisdiction. The rest will be introduced some time in the future by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts. The Legislative Assembly, lower house, voted to approve a Code of Conduct that hasn’t been produced yet. Absolutely ridiculous.

  3. Harold says:

    Amendment to previous comment:Date for debate of the Fair Trading Amendment bill was changed from 7 August to 14 August

  4. Jan Curtis says:

    Airbnb has ruined the sense of community. Disgraceful. Renting out a room is not the issue, its when they rent out the whole house permanently to Airbnb.

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