Air BnB in Byron – 3 days to act or it becomes legal and permanent

Air BnB would like you think that their hosts are just local people earning a bit of pocket money on the side. Almost 80% of the listings in Byron Shire  are whole houses. There are 2,306 whole homes listed on Air BnB in Byron Shire! Only 616 listings are for private rooms in people’s homes – so much for the ‘sharing’ economy. Air BnB’s vast growth has been fuelled by investors and property speculators, particularly in our Shire.

The new proposed State Environmental Planning Policy (Short-term Rental Accommodation) 2019 under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 will entrench Short Term Holiday Letting in our Shire and change where we live for ever.

Submissions on the proposed new Planning Policy CLOSE THIS WED 11 Sept! We need to show more submissions than there are houses to make ours the dominant voice. Air BnB are aggressive at pushing their barrow and they have limitless resources to override local voices. Some points to consider:

  • The proposed policy overrides other legislation that supports residents. Clause 7 (1) In the event of an inconsistency between this Policy and another environmental planning instrument, whether made before or after this Policy, this Policy prevails to the extent of the inconsistency. 
  • NSW is out of step with locations all over the world. Major towns and cities are placing restrictions on Air BnB but in NSW the state government appears to have allowed the short term letting accommodation industry to write the rules.
  • The new legislation places a cap on days allowed for letting, where the host is not present, of 180 days per year or 365 days in regional areas. Byron was promised a 90 day limit in the run up to the last election but it is still to be approved and Council has to prove its case as to why Byron gets special treatment before it is approved. 90 days is still 45 weekends a year and, given weekend prices, this is likely not a deterrent to making owners return houses to the permanent rental market.
  • Unlimited days – no caps: Also, a loophole has appeared in the proposed regulation: a booking for 21 or more consecutive days will not count towards the limit when a host is not present. So a cap is not really a cap!!  This means the true extent of short-term letting can never be monitored or measured. A host could add  as many 21 day letting periods  as they want for the rest of the year and it would not be counted in the annual total!
  • The state govt is also proposing an industry-led register to keep track of all short-term lets. It is expected to record the name of the host, the property’s address, the duration of each booking and whether it complied with bylaws. The industry self- regulating? Really? This takes the power away from local councils to monitor non-compliance for their residents.
  • It is also known that a number of NSW MPs own short term rental properties, including the Deputy Premier. Politicians with clear conflicts of interest should not be allowed to vote on this issue.
  • The law supports residents – NSW Land and Environment Court has analysed case law on the definitions of “residential accommodation”, “residential building”, “residential flat building”, “domicile” and “flats”, and concluded that there must be “an element of permanence or residence for a considerable time, or having the character of a person’s settled or usual abode” in order to constitute “residential buildings”; relying particularly on North Sydney Municipal Council v Sydney Serviced Apartments Pty Ltd (1990)21 NSWLR 532 and Derring Lane Pty Ltd v Port Phillip City Council (No 2) (1999) 108 LGERA 129.

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