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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Residents want regulation for Airbnb and holiday letting

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Approved operators and residents support regulation of short term holiday letting. Photo pxfuel.com.

Aslan Shand

It is always difficult to get a fair impression of the impact of an activity like short-term holiday letting when there are so many different, and highly invested, groups who are likely to be impacted by the outcome. But that is exactly what the recent study of of resident perceptions of short-term holiday letting (STHL) across 12 Mid and North Coast NSW council areas has tried to achieve. 

Following on from a similar study conducted in Byron Shire in 2018 researchers have attempted to assess the varying impacts on local communities of unregulated STHL. 

Covering the local government areas (LGA) of Ballina, Bellingen, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, MidCoast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond and Tweed researchers say they were looking to give ‘locals a say in decision-making about how to manage short-term holiday letting in the NSW North Coast region.’

‘A key outcome was that just over two-thirds of approved accommodation providers and other residents believed caps on the number of nights a property is let are needed when the property is without a host – temporarily or permanently,’ said Dr Sabine Muschter one of the study authors from the School of Business and Tourism at Southern Cross University (SoBT SCU). 

‘In other words, most residents favour a model involving mandatory on-site management for any short-term holiday letting,’ she explained. 

The previous study of Byron Shire showed much higher agreements with all the negative impacts of STHL compared to the current study of the 12 LGAs.

It is probably a matter of the high numbers of STHL as well as the length of time it has been around. Byron had STHL since the late 1980s and while it has been an unlevel playing field for the approved providers, and obviously a disruption for some neighbours, it really escalated with the sharp increase in STHL numbers due to Airbnb over the last six years,’ said Dr Muschter. 

‘It appears negative impacts on the community increase with high STHL numbers. Tourists moving into neighbourhoods can cause all kinds of issues including a decrease in long-term rentals, noise, loss of community, increase in parking, traffic, and waste management issues.’

Not all bad

Positive impacts of STHL were also clear for many communities with benefits for the local economy and employment. 

‘While it is clear there is a desire for greater transparency and some additional regulations for short-term holiday letting, there also appears to be strong acknowledgement of the positive economic impact, job opportunities and increased appeal for prospective destinations that it delivers to communities,’ said Michael Thurston from Destination North Coast*.

‘Short-term holiday letting is a vital component of the tourism industry providing the most flexible form of accommodation in terms of housing guests but also increasing capacity to support peak periods and events but the sector must work with communities to mitigate its impact,’ he said.

Overall the study suggests that the other surveyed council areas are following the Airbnb trend that started in Byron Shire.

Dr Tania von der Heidt, who also worked on the project told, Echonetdaily that, ‘While Airbnb hosts did not wish for their operations to be regulated, most approved accommodation providers and other residents want more regulation on short-term holiday letting. This includes more adequate reporting avenues to lodge complaints of misconduct, appropriate enforcement of non-compliance, and the introduction of compulsory public liability insurance for guests and third parties.’

For more information on each LGA see Airbnb invokes mixed support for holiday letting across NSW North Coast.

* The project was undertaken in partnership with Destination North Coast

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  1. The problem with Air Band B is that it is totally unregulated and has been presumptionay and aggressively imposed on residential neighbourhoods leading to a breakdown of community, noise rubbish, parking congestion and lack of affordable rental and owner occupied real estate.
    It is unfair to established legal accommodation providers who have have followed regulations, paid fees and have insurance.
    We have just been to Europe where many tourist cities are cracking right down on it, imposing strict regulations and fees and making them illegal without full time resident managers- eg Amsterdam, Barcelona and Venice.


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