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Short Term Rental Accommodation (holiday letting)

What is short term rental accommodation (holiday letting)?

Short term rental accommodation is another name for holiday letting. It is where an existing home is used to provide short term accommodation to paying tourists and visitors.

Short Term Rental Accommodation in Byron Shire

Upward of 900 houses are let to tourists and visitors in Byron Shire. These homes are generally found in residential neighbourhoods which are positioned close to amenities, beaches, town centres and key tourism attractions.

Whilst short term holiday accommodation is an important provider of tourist accommodation in the Shire, providing around 30% of all tourist accommodation, the impact that some occupiers of holiday homes are having on adjoining long term residents conflicts with the peace and enjoyment expected in a residential neighbourhood and needs to be better addressed.

Amendments to planning controls to formalise Short Term Rental Accommodation

Council is amending the Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014 to define short term rental accommodation and provide two development pathways to formalise its use in existing homes:

  1. Exempt Development: will allow property owners of dwellings with 3 bedrooms or less, who want to rent their property out for less than 90 days in any one year and live there for the remainder of the year; caps number of occupants to 2 per bedroom, excluding children under 5 years of age.
  2. Development Application: provides for dwellings of any size; caps number of occupants to 2 per bedroom excluding children under 5 years of age; it is also for dwellings up to 3 bedrooms that cannot comply with the exempt provisions.

A report was submitted to Council at 7 April 2016 meeting and it was resolved (16-165):

1.       That Council modify the planning proposal in relation to the exempt provisions as proposed in the NSW Rural Fire Service submission to state: 

6. Prior to commencement, where the dwelling is located on mapped bushfire prone land, a bushfire safety authority under Section 100B of the Rural Fires Act 1997 shall be obtained and all conditions of the Bushfire Safety Authority must be complied with. 

2.       That Council forward the modified planning proposal to amend Byron LEP 2014, as included in Attachment 1 of this report, to NSW Parliamentary Counsel’s Office requesting that a draft LEP instrument be prepared, under section 59(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 with the following additional changes: 

a)    Incorporate item 18 and 19 (amend item 19 from “10pm” to “12 midnight”) contained on page 514 of Attachment 1 of Report 13.4 being “controls relating to exempt provisions for use of outdoor areas and visitor number and hours” 

3.       That Council liaise with Parliamentary Counsel’s Office (PCO) as necessary to finalise the content of the draft LEP and to enable PCO to issue an Opinion that the plan can be made. 

4.       That Council make the draft LEP under delegated authority and forward the plan to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for notification on the NSW Government legislation website. 

5.       That a security bond be required of no less than $250 per adult per letting and that a provision be added to the exempt clause. 

A further report was submitted to Council at 27 October 2016 meeting detailing amendments to the planning clauses as drafted by NSW Parliamentary Counsel.  These included significant amendments to the exempt provisions and Council subsequently resolved the following:

16-545 Resolved that Council:

    1. Note the amendments to the draft planning provisions by Parliamentary Counsel;
    2. Amend the planning proposal to remove exempt provisions noting Council’s intention to review the applicability of exempt provisions within 12 months;
    3. Include appropriate provisions within the draft DCP for short term rental accommodation concerning dealing with substantiated complaints similar to other provisions contained in other Local government planning controls relating to more than two substantiated complaints; 
    4. Not take enforcement action against existing land owners for 6 months following the LEP amendment being made for using a dwelling for short term rental accommodation not in accordance with Byron LEP 2014, provided that use does not generate substantiated complaints relating to noise, amenity or public and occupant health and safety issues;
    5. Receive a report, before years end, on the legal and planning avenues to ensure ‘granny flats/secondary dwellings’ built without paying Council fees and or contributions are not being used and will not be used for short term rental accommodation purposes; and
    6. Receive a report, before years end, on the restrictions on Council to set fees on DA applications for short term rental accommodation or registrations of short term rental accommodation.

How is Council dealing with existing holiday lets?

Council resolved to defer authorising proceedings related to “holiday letting” pending the development of a strategy regarding options for regulation. However, action remains open against “holiday let” properties where the tenants behaviour causes significant impact on neighbourhood amenity. Whilst Council will not take action relating to the use of a property for holiday letting until after regulations are in place, Council has and will continue to take action in respect of fire safety and amenity issues on a case by case basis as and when they arise.

Where to next?

An amended Planning Proposal has been forwarded to the Department Planning and Environment as per Resolution 16-545.  Council is awaiting further advice from the Department and further reports will be submitted to Council regarding the other actions of the resolution.