Saturday, 21 July 2018

Anger from Approved Accommodation Providers Threatening State Govt with Class Action over new Short Term Holiday Letting laws

Byron Bay
Controversy heats up over the new Short Term Holiday Letting Laws with a Bill being successfully passed through the Lower House in June, which is up for voting in the Upper House from 14th August onwards.

A large group of Approved Accommodation Operators in the Byron Shire are angry at these proposed laws and plan to meet Tamara Smith, the State Member for Ballina, for a second time this Thursday at the Cavanbah Centre to discuss stopping the NSW Government’s proposed laws being passed in the Upper House.

The Fair Trading Amendment (Short-term rental accommodation) Bill 2018 will allow Sydney based hosts to let out their homes for 180 days per year without needing to live at the residence. It will also allow hosts in the rest of NSW to let their residences out for every day of the year, without needing to submit a Development Application to their local Council.

Group spokesperson Victoria McEwen says “many accommodation operators in Byron Shire have either bought or lodged a Development Application when an AirBnB host is not going to any of this trouble or expense. The playing field is already unlevel enough as it is. This Bill if approved will allow anyone to run a pop-up hotel with no prior due diligence and the problems we have already suffered across the community with unaffordable housing, minimal rental stock, social hollowing and party houses will simply spiral out of control. We had 2,000 AirBnB hosts in Byron Shire last year and this year we’re up to almost 3,000. There’s only 15,000 dwellings in the Byron Shire, so that’s 20% of our homes already being used for AirBnB. And that’s not including other Short Term Holiday Letting websites such as Luxico, Stayz, HomeAway,, Expedia and TripAdvisor. The degradation in the community will only get worse if this new Bill is passed.”

“It is also not fair that unregistered accommodation operators get away with no regulation within an industry that is already regulated. We already have a process in place that governs Short Term Holiday Letting – it’s called lodging a Development Application with your local Council and abiding by the laws as set out in your local LEP. If the State Government passes this Bill, they are essentially deregulating an already regulated industry. And there is a groundswell of anger brewing amongst approved operators who have done the right thing by the law. All we want is the same rules and the same costs for everyone.” said Mrs McEwen, who owns guesthouses in Byron Bay herself.

“This Bill is heading in the wrong direction by our State Government and if passed there will be trouble afoot with the State Government potentially finding themselves at the centre of a class action by angry Approved Operators. We need unregulated operators such as AirBnB hosts to be lodging a Development Application and paying the same costs as we are, not being given the green light to pay nothing for Council compliance or setup costs. It’s not only the costs that are out of whack, if this Bill is passed, an AirBnB host will also be able to get away with not having any fire safety in place, no food safety checks, no requirements for disability access and no car parking requirements. We already pay significantly higher commercial rates and developer contributions for the upkeep of our roads, why is the State Government allowing this problem to get worse?”

“We urge all Members of the NSW State Government Upper House to block this Bill when it is next up for voting. We are also calling on the State Government to enforce a Development Application to be lodged so that the whole industry becomes regulated for short term accommodation. This is a far better scenario than deregulating the whole industry all together where we will end up with the same mess that happened with the taxi industry when taxi plates had to be bought back because of Uber. What we need is a system that is robust and protects the interests of our community.”

“However if this Bill is passed, then we urge the NSW State Government to at least adopt the Amendment being proposed by the Greens which is asking for control to be put back into the hands of local Councils giving them the ability to manage their own Short Term Holiday Letting within their own LEP’s. Every Council is different and Byron Shire is a unique destination that needs its own management that is specific to the needs of the Byron Shire community. Our own Byron Shire LEP is already perfectly fine as it is – it currently prohibits Short Term Holiday Letting in Rural and Residential zones unless a Development Application is lodged. It’s just that our Council’s LEP is being over ridden by this new Bill at State level.”

“However this is not just a Byron Bay problem. This is an all of NSW regional problem. We are talking with approved operators in other tourism hot spots across the state who are also angry over the new proposed laws which will effectively wipe out the value of their registered businesses overnight. This not only affects guesthouses and B&B’s, it also gravely affects motels, hotels, hostels and resorts – this is catastrophic to the whole registered accommodation industry.”

“We also call into question why the NSW State government is giving the green light to AirBnB with no restrictions when other cities around the world are either shutting it down all together or clamping down hard. Amsterdam has put a 30 day maximum cap on AirBnB hosts and London has restricted AirBnB hosts to a maximum of 90 days per year. There are good models around the world being adopted to manage Short Term Holiday Letting successfully without ruining local communities, why is the NSW State Government going against the global trend? There is no other city in the world giving the green light to AirBnB and the fact that our own State Government is undermining registered operators is totally unbelievable. If you’re an operator that has bought or lodged a Development Application in NSW, you’ve been sold out by your own State Government. Obviously being a registered operator and doing the right thing by the law no longer means anything.”

“We also call into question the ethics of Members of Parliament being allowed to vote on this Bill who own residential houses and rent them out themselves on short term holiday letting platforms – in any other voting system this would be considered a conflict of interest. We call on Members of Parliament who have such a conflict of interest to declare their conflict and abstain from voting on this Bill.”

“We are asking all Approved Accommodation Operators in Byron Bay, Tweed Heads, Ballina, Lismore and from across the State to join our FaceBook group We need your voice.”

The meeting will take place at 1:30pm at the Cavanbah Centre, Ewingsdale Rd, Thursday 26 July 2018, Media are invited to attend. Contact details for spokesperson: Victoria McEwen, 02 6684 7047

on behalf of
Byron Hinterland Collective Inc.

“A Sustainable Visitor Vision for the Economic Benefit of the Local Community”

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