Byron Shire to start issuing fines for unauthorised holiday letting

Published on 05 October 2018

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Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, said Council will be putting community first and will be issuing fines to people operating unauthorised holiday letting operations in secondary dwellings. 

“Due to Byron Shire’s popularity as a tourist destination many people now see short-term holiday letting as their opportunity to make money on their property from tourism and in some cases this can come at a cost to the community,” Mayor Richardson said.

Housing in Byron Shire is expensive and out of reach for many people and Council, whilst unable to control house prices, is trying to do what it can to make housing cheaper by:

• Providing development incentives to encourage more housing;

• Working with the community to ensure housing is provided to permanent residents.

In 2011, Council decided to exempt certain secondary dwellings from development contributions if they provided a home for permanent residents.  The consent for these secondary dwellings restricts use for tourist and visitor accommodation. 

This exemption has been keenly taken up by many home owners but Council shares the concerns of many community members who know that many secondary dwellings are being used to make money from tourism.

17.6 percent of the total housing stock in Byron Shire is listed as online holiday let compared to a national average of 0.2% and a greater Sydney metropolitan rate of 1.7%.[1]

“Holiday letting in Byron Shire has exploded in recent years and this is resulting in significant adverse impacts on our community in terms of amenity, character and available and affordable long-term rental accommodation for residents,” Mayor Richardson said.

Council recently resolved that it would employ enforcement action on people who are using secondary dwellings on their properties for a purpose, such as tourism, which is outside their development consent. 

“Where there have been complaints and there is a reasonable suspicion of unauthorised activities occurring on a site Council staff will investigate,” Mayor Richardson said.

“If the owner of the property does not have Council approval for a secondary dwelling to be used for tourism purposes then owner will be issued with a fine which is $3,000 for an individual and $6,000 for a company.

“There are hundreds of approved tourism accommodation providers in the Byron Shire who do the right thing with respect to approvals, safety and compliance and they play an incredibly important role in our local tourism industry.

“Given the current estimate of short-term holiday-let properties online is some 2,900, and increasing, something needs to be done to protect our community’s right to residential areas that are filled with neighbours not tourists.                                                                                                 

“We note the NSW Government is proposing a review to the effectiveness and impact of its new Short Term Holiday Let Policy framework in 12 months however I fear, that because of the sheer size and scale of holiday letting in our shire, it may be too late in 12 months time to protect our community heart and character,” Mayor Richardson said.

Byron Shire Council is continuing to lobby the NSW Government for either a deferral from the new state-wide planning policy, or for the inclusion of local provisions including a limit to the number of days for short-term holiday lets, a council-managed registration system and a requirement for the dwelling that is being used for short-term rental accommodation to be the primary place of residence of the owner.

Facts about holiday letting in the Byron Shire (University of Sydney and Urban Housing Lab research on behalf of the Australian Coastal Councils Association)

• 17.6% of total housing stock in the Byron Shire is listed as online holiday let.  This is compared to a national rate of 0.2% and a Greater Sydney Metro rate of 1.7%

• Airbnb beds account for more then four times the number of traditional tourist accommodation beds.

• Online listings of entire homes equal nearly half the rental housing stock in Byron Shire.  This equates to around 50 listings for each permanent rental available.

• The increase in short-term holiday letting has tightened the local housing market where renters are unable to find permanent accommodation or are subject to short-term leases and seasonal displacements.

For more interviews call Simon Richardson, Byron Shire Mayor, on 0427 076 834.