The Ballina Shire Council has voted unanimously to investigate options for restricting short-term rental accommodation.
Independent councillor and mayoral candidate Jeff Johnson wrote to The Echo last week saying many families couldn’t afford or even find long-term rental accommodation in Ballina and that holiday letting was likely part of the problem.
The former Greens-turned-independent said local businesses were struggling to find workers thanks to the lack of available and affordable housing.
Residential rents had increased in the shire by 25%, he said, against a vacancy rate of 0.2%.
But the number of Ballina shire holiday homes available via the internet had increased by more than 200% in a three-year period.
Cr Johnson said there were 634 holiday homes in the shire advertised via Air B’n’B in 2019 compared to 193 in 2016.
The figures didn’t include properties listed with local real estate agencies or other online platforms.
Ballina 180-day annual cap on STHL too high, says Cr Johnson
The Ballina Shire Council successfully lobbied the NSW government in 2018 for a 180-day annual cap on the availability of short term holiday lets but Cr Johnson said data and real-life experiences since then showed the cap was too high.
‘While a number of these properties would only be renting out their homes during the holiday season, which is actually good for the local economy, it’s the ones that are listed permanently that is contributing to the housing affordability crisis and the critically low number of properties that are available for long-term rent,’ the independent wrote in an introduction to his council motion last week.
‘This motion seeks to find out what other council areas are doing, to get additional information as to the impact the increasing number of short term rentals is having on the local long term rental market, and to see what changes could be implemented to reduce this impact.,’ he wrote.
Byron’s Air B’n’B viral popularity spreads throughout Northern Rivers
Last week the independent councillor referred to the Byron Shire in his arguments for tighter holiday let restrictions.
‘Byron has been battling this issue for a number of years and it has now spread down to Lennox and other areas of our shire,’ Cr Johnson said, ‘investors can generate a greater return managing properties that used to be available as housing and instead turning them into holiday accommodation’.
Writing again to The Echo after the last Ballina Shire Council meeting for 2021, the independent mayoral candidate said increasing the number of homes available for long term rental accommodation in the Ballina Shire was one of his key issues.
‘There is a chronic shortage and Council needs to look at a suite of options to address the current housing crisis,’ Cr Johnson wrote.
The motion came in two parts:
- That Council acknowledge the critical shortage of rental accommodation in the Ballina Shire and the impact that short term holiday accommodation sites such as AirBnB are having.
- That Council investigate what restrictions it can place on short term accommodation for homes in residential areas in order to increase the supply of long-term rental properties.