Byron Shire Council has announced it will start fining owners of unauthorised holiday lets, with a particular focus on people who are renting out a secondary dwelling.
The announcement comes amid news that nearly 20 per cent of homes in Byron Shire are now being holiday let, squeezing out all but the most affluent renters.
First in Council’s sights will be people who have benefited from a decision it took in 2011 to drop development contributions on secondary dwellings and granny flats in a bid to increase affordable housing.
These people’s DAs specifically preclude them from using their secondary accommodation for short-term holiday rental.
Opportunity to make money
Byron mayor Simon Richardson, said that due to the Shire’s popularity as a tourist destination ‘many people now see short-term holiday letting as their opportunity to make money on their property from tourism and in some cases this can come at a cost to the community’.
Housing in Byron Shire is expensive and out of reach for many people. Council, while unable to control house prices, is trying to do what it can to make housing cheaper,’ Cr Richardson said
He added that while council would continue providing development incentives to encourage more housing it would also ‘work with the community to ensure that housing is provided to permanent residents’.
Cr Richardson said that the developer contribution exemption had been ‘keenly taken up by many home owners’.
But, he added, ‘Council shares the concerns of many community members who know that many secondary dwellings are being used to make money from tourism’.
17.6 pc of homes holiday let
Some 17.6 percent of the total housing stock in Byron Shire is listed as online holiday let compared to a national average of 0.2 per cent and a greater Sydney metropolitan rate of 1.7 per cent
‘Holiday letting in Byron Shire has exploded in recent years and this is resulting in significant adverse impacts on our community in terms of amenity, character and available and affordable long-term rental accommodation for residents.
‘Council recently resolved that it would take enforcement action on people who are using secondary dwellings on their properties for a purpose, such as tourism, which is outside their development consent.
‘Where there have been complaints, and there is a reasonable suspicion of unauthorised activities occurring on a site, Council staff will investigate.
‘If the owner of the property does not have Council approval for a secondary dwelling to be used for tourism purposes then owner will be issued with a fine which is $3,000 for an individual and $6,000 for a company.
‘There are hundreds of approved tourism accommodation providers in the Byron Shire who do the right thing with respect to approvals, safety and compliance and they play an incredibly important role in our local tourism industry.
‘Given the current estimate of short-term holiday-let properties online is some 2,900, and increasing, something needs to be done to protect our community’s right to residential areas that are filled with neighbours not tourists,’ Mayor Richardson said.
He added that while the NSW Government is proposing to review the effectiveness of its new short-term holiday-let policy in 12 months ‘I fear, that because of the sheer size and scale of holiday letting in our Shire, it may be too late in 12 months’ time to protect our community’s heart and character.
Byron Shire Council is continuing to lobby the NSW Government for either a deferral from the new state-wide planning policy, or for the inclusion of local provisions including a limit to the number of days for short-term holiday lets, a council-managed registration system and a requirement for the dwelling that is being used for short-term rental accommodation to be the primary place of residence of the owner.
Facts about holiday letting in Byron Shire
- 17.6 per cent of total housing stock in the Byron Shire is listed as online holiday let. This is compared to a national rate of 0.2 per cent and a Greater Sydney Metro rate of 1.7 per cent
- Airbnb beds account for more than four times the number of traditional tourist accommodation beds.
- Online listings of entire homes equal nearly half the rental housing stock in Byron Shire. This equates to around 50 listings for each permanent rental available.
- The increase in short-term holiday letting has tightened the local housing market where renters are unable to find permanent accommodation or are subject to short-term leases and seasonal displacements.
University of Sydney and Urban Housing Lab research on behalf of the Australian Coastal Councils Association.