Holiday letting comes under NSW Parliament scrutiny

The Greens’ Tourism and North Coast spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has welcomed a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into holiday letting and is encouraging local residents to make submissions.

“It’s an important move that the State Parliament will be conducting an inquiry into the use of properties for short term tourism use, including the short term holiday letting of residential premises,” Ms Barham said.

“The contentious issue of holiday letting has had many impacts on North Coast communities, and despite the lack of planning approval it has continued to flourish. Without approval and regulation, the short term holiday letting of residential premises doesn’t pay its way but adds to the impacts and costs to council, as well as depriving approved tourism accommodation providers of business.

“Other issues that may come to light through this inquiry into holiday letting are the possibilities for tax evasion, and that property owners may be claiming negative gearing and a capital gains tax discount while effectively running commercial businesses,” said Ms Barham.

“The inquiry will also examine the situation with online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, and regulatory issues around the ‘sharing economy’ model of accommodation for travellers. While these platforms offer some great benefits for home-owners to be able to earn income when their property is under-occupied and for travellers to experience a local connection to the community they’re visiting, it has become clear that the use has extended to the permanent rental of whole premises for tourism in some areas. This aspect of online accommodation services may lead to impacts for neighbours as well as the regulated tourism industry providers. The lack of approval creates an uneven playing field within the industry and also a lack of compliance with industry standards relating to safety, insurance and other regulatory issues.

Ms Barham noted that in Byron and Tweed Shires it is estimated that there are nearly 2000 residential properties being used for short term tourism, which equates to up to 5000 residents who aren’t able to be housed in the local area.

“For more than a decade the unregulated use of residential properties has caused negative impacts in Byron Shire for residents, including noise and antisocial behaviour. It has also had a major effect on the availability and affordability of housing. It makes a mockery of strategic planning that defines residential and commercial zones and the impacts on infrastructure. The use of holiday let brings additional visitors to the shire, and particularly in Byron Bay it adds to the traffic issues. Residents have suffered for too long, missing out on neighbours and a sense of community. For those seeking rental properties in the area, it has reduced the available stock, contributing to this being one of the most unavailable and unaffordable regional areas in NSW. Importantly for those who stay in these properties, there could also be serious issues if there was an accident or injury as insurance doesn’t cover unapproved uses,” Ms Barham said.

“In the Tweed Shire, the council staff report identified that the use of 900 residential dwellings for short term premises is a prohibited use in residential zones, but the council resolved to allow the use. The NSW Law Society and court decisions have also defined that the unregulated use of dwellings is a prohibited use.”

The Legislative Assembly inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW will receive submissions until the 9th November.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

BACKGROUND:

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING

Terms of reference for an inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW

That the Committee inquire into and report on the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW, with particular reference to:
a) The current situation in NSW and comparison with other jurisdictions
b) The differences between traditional accommodation providers and online platforms
c) The growth of short-term and online letting, and the changing character of the market
d) The economic impacts of short-term letting on local and the state economies
e) Regulatory issues posed by short-term letting including customer safety, land use
planning and neighbourhood amenity, and licensing and taxation
f) Any other related matters.