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.