At the Tweed Shire Council (TSC) meeting (October 7) a late Mayoral Minute by Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) sought support from other councillors for a reduction from 365 to 180 days for non-hosted short term rental accommodation (STRA) in the Tweed Shire that is set to begin on 1 November.
Three years ago TSC voted to allow non-hosted rental STRA for 365 days a year. This contrasted with neighbouring Byron Shire Council who have sought to limit the opportunities for short term holiday letting (STHL) via platforms like Airbnb and Stays to 90 and 180 days in parts of the Byron Shire.
‘Three years ago we were asked re 350 versus 180 days,’ said Mayor Cherry.
‘We didn’t realise the impact of the COVID crisis would have. There are people in long term rental who are going to lose that rental because they (the property owners) might decide to move to STRA.’
The Mayoral Minute proposed writing firstly to NSW Director for Housing Policy, Sandy Chappel to reduce ‘the new non-hosted STRA legislation be limited to 180 days in the Tweed Shire’. Secondly, it proposed writing to ‘the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and requests the Minister reconsider our request to delay the non hosted STRA legislation commencement for 12 months from November 1 to give our community some certainty in terms of the current housing crisis Tweed is experiencing.’
Mayor Cherry argued that the changes would ‘give our community some security on affordable housing and not have short term holiday rentals taking up our housing supply.
‘This is only non-hosted rental, not a family that is letting out a room or granny flat, that wouldn’t be impacted at all. I am seeking to strike a balance,’ she said.
‘It would dissuade investors who are just buying the properties to be used as a business. We need our people to have homes. It is well documented that STHL reduces the availability of homes.
‘180 days is the limit that a lot of other councils are applying for.
‘This can be changed in the future if our situation of housing affordability changes. Starting with 365 just does not fit with the housing affordability crisis that we are in.’
Not our role
Councillor Warren Polglase (Conservative) came out strongly against the proposed reduction in days to rent out homes in Tweed Shire that ultimately held sway with the other councillors.
‘A lot of these homes are in very good areas in the Tweed,’ Cr Polglase pointed out saying that they were not areas that people could afford to rent.
‘If the government starts trying to dictate the market they don’t know what the results will be. If you think this is going to make it affordable housing you’ve got it wrong. It is paradise here, people are prepared to pay for it. That’s market forces, we’ve got no control over it.’
Councillor Reece Byrnes (Labour) suggested a compromise of 250 days saying that it is a ‘two fold argument; we do need economic growth and we do have a housing affordability crisis.’
A long discussion ensued following the suspension of standing orders with Councillor Pryce Allsop saying that ‘whether it is 180 or 250 days if you just to run the numbers, you rent your property every weekend. I don’t think you are going to get what you want from going to 180.
‘There is also the compliance issue. are we going to get any money for compliance?’
Council staff pointed out that the standard exemptions appeared to be 90 and 180 day per year limitations however, they said that it didn’t preclude a request for a different number of days being requested.
‘180 days is probably the upper limit if you have to make a decision [on the financial] worth [of STHL] at 250 days it may be more financially worth it,’ pointed out Mayor Cherry.
The motion to apply to reduce the letting days to 180 was lost with Mayor Cherry voting in favour while Crs Allsop, Byrnes, Ron Cooper, James Owen, and Polglase voting against the motion. Councillor Katie Milne was absent.