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Byron Shire
September 26, 2022

Short term rental accommodation policy for Byron Council Q&A

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With Council’s short term rental accommodation (STRA) policy on exhibition until October 31, The Echo asked how it will work. 

Replies are from Shannon Burt, Director Sustainable Environment and Economy:

1. Enforcement: what will the enforcement process be, and who will oversee, and fund, that?

Byron Shire Council is the only Council that has been given permission to move forward with a planning proposal for 90 days in some areas rather than 180 or 365 days but all councils will be grappling with how to monitor and enforce these limits.

Councils will not be given any funding from the NSW Government to undertake this enforcement work.

What we do know is that as part of the NSW Government’s reforms to STRA, a mandatory Code of Conduct for the STRA industry came into force on 18 December 2020. It sets obligations, minimum standards of behaviour and requirements for all industry participants ie booking platforms, hosts, letting agents and guests.

The premise is that all owners renting out properties for STRA will register on the NSW Government site.

This will enable councils to monitor and confirm the compliance of registered STRA dwellings with the day caps and other information they provide on the register.

If they are found to breach relevant legislation i.e., planning or environment, enforcement can be undertaken. Councils can also respond to complaints about unregistered STRA use. What this realistically looks like in terms of Council staff resourcing is not known at the moment. 

2. How will STRA properties be tracked – presumably Council will register all these properties within the precincts?

Any dwelling used for STRA purposes is required to be registered on a State Government-run register for STRA. Information such as compliance with fire safety standards and the number of days a property is used for STRA is captured and integrated with key STRA booking platforms (such as Stayz and Airbnb) and the NSW Planning Portal.

This register helps councils with monitoring and compliance of registered STRA dwellings.

It also assists with identifying unregistered STRA use.

3. What penalties are proposed for STRA owners who do not comply with the regulations?

Penalties vary and depend on the offence or breach of a NSW Government Act or Regulation. They are set out in a number of Acts and Regulations including the EP&A Act, POEO Act and Local Government Act.

4. Will properties within the precincts be required to pay commercial rates instead of residential rates?

This will depend on the existing rating category of the property.

The fact that a home or dwelling is available to tourists and visitors would not be sufficient to establish that the parcel of land on which the home or dwelling is erected cannot be categorised as ‘residential’. 

As recognised by LGA section 516, residential accommodation could include places where tourists and visitors stay overnight for short periods all year round provided that such accommodation does not take any of the following forms: hotel, motel, guesthouse, backpacker hostel, nursing home, caravan park or manufactured home estate.

5. Will properties within the precincts be required to operate like a motel, for example and adhere to the same occupational health and safety requirements that motels do?

Safety standards are set out in the mandatory Code of Conduct for the STRA industry. 

Laws for short-term rental accommodation can be found at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

6. Has Council estimated costings (revenue and expenditure) to manage this, and has the NSW Government offered to contribute?

Council has not yet estimated costs associated with short term rental accommodation use/management or enforcement. 

The State Government has not offered any contribution in this regard either.

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  1. So residential rates for a Tourist facility, that will generally have more than the average 2.5 residents in residential homes. But the farcical regs on breaches will be an even bigger issue – residents are being put as the first responders, including 3 strikes on noise complaints to loose licence, but if noise complaints are resolved within 30 minutes then it is not a registered ‘strike’ – so can be woken up every night if noise complaints resolved within 30 minutes. We need to act as a community to evolve our own responses separate to the developer prejudiced system. I know a granny who was threatened for ‘interrupting their business’ with a noise complaint, and a local teacher had to move because of noise, while houses sit empty waiting for tourist lets.

    • John, a number of points that you make are incorrect. You need to read the Code of Conduct for STRA which was developed by Fair Trading and implemented on 18 December 2020. The most important issue is whether STRA owners will comply with a 90 day cap. Currently, Byron Shire has a 180 day cap and there is evidence that many STRA owners have already exceeded this for the current registration year. This means that the Department of Planning is not monitoring the STRA register and therefore is not complying with the legislation.

      • I have a copy of the Code, totally agree on issue of compliance with 90 day cap (residents will unfairly have to be the front line of monitoring), but residents’ complaint of amenity breaches appears to result in 1st a warning and then require 2 found further breaches to have the host or guest put on the exclusion register. I presume complaints will first go to a local hotline body, as previously, where if it is quickly resolved, wont be considered a breach.
        The Code states:
        4.1.1. Where the Commissioner finds that an industry participant has contravened this code, the Commissioner may:
        (a) issue a warning notice
        b) issue a direction
        c) record a strike
        Resulting in:
        (a) [That the] the guest, or host, [is classed] as an excluded guest where the guest, or host, has had two strikes recorded against them in a two-year period…. and be excluded from being a guest or host.
        I.E 3 strikes (1 warning and 2 strikes), but if as per previous local Hol. Let Compliance on noise, parking etc, a Complaint will probably first go to a local Hol.Let hotline and wont be able to be classed as a Strike if addressed within 30 minutes

        • A Quiet Time formerly Noisy Neighbours Hotline only operates in Byron Shire and not all of NSW. Based on recent response times it takes hours for them to respond, Better to ring the Police.
          Complaints about STRA are made to Fair Trading, Since inception of the Code of Conduct, Fair Trading recently informed me that no guest, host or booking platform has been placed on the exclusion register.
          As you have quoted from the Code, the Commissioner has 3 alternative courses of action. It is only 2 strikes over 2 years that leads to being placed on the exclusion register . A warning is not regarded as a strike. Parliament is required to review all aspects of the STRA regulations in the next year.

  2. Apart from the proposed policies being unworkable , penalties unenforceable , costs unknown and unfunded , none of the proposed measures will do anything to solve the housing availability and rental cost crises. So what if short-term rental of properties is restricted to 90 days a year , how is this going to give would be potential long-term tenants a stable rental? What good to the community is a house left vacant for 275 days every year? The solution? Huge rate penalties on unoccupied houses while agents still have willing would-be tenants with good references on their books. Either that or a well-organised mass squatting movement.


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