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Byron Council’s position on holiday letting

Just when we thought a cohesive rational approach was on the horizon, Byron Shire Council seems to return to the dark old days with regard to it’s position on holiday letting.

If you haven’t seen it, here is the article that appeared in the Echo: Holiday letting again in Byron Council’s sights.

What does this mean for all of you currently engaged in renting your properties in the short term?

The answer is simple. If you are renting to guests who are engaged in occupying your dwelling for residential purposes, you have nothing to fear. Your current planning approval certainly allows short term rental congruent with the dominant residential use albeit being innominate, as is the case for long term rental.

The council cannot stop legitimate residential short-term rental

The Byron Shire Council has no power to stop anyone from engaging in legitimate residential short term rental.

If you were allowing other activities to be conducted on your property such as weddings, Bucks or Hens groups or any other partying or commercial activity, you would be operating outside your planning permission and could be penalised. The Code of Conduct clearly supports this position and the council’s right to take action.

Why has the Byron Council seemingly abandoned all the work done over the past few years in an attempt to find a workable solution?

It seems that a majority the current councillors are certainly not supporters of short term rental. However, something has triggered this motion to end the moratorium on compliance action. Given that it has come from the political side of council it would appear that there has been community pressure applied from some sectors.

Rates and affordable housing are the crux of the issue

It has been suggested to me that this may have been due to a couple of factors. The first is the very unwelcome rate rise. Remember that this is a very emotive issue overall. Despite the fact that Byron’s economy relies overwhelmingly on the visitor industry, there is an entrenched resentment by many about the numbers of visitors who come to the shire.

Coupled with this is the lack of affordable housing in Byron. There are a number of people who attribute the high prices of real estate to short term rental despite there being no evidence to support this view. The price of real estate is due to very heavy demand against lack of supply. The Byron Council has directly been a major cause of this with a succession of councillors opposing every form of development including the provision of new land being opened up.

So visitors and the perceived (but very questionable) impact on resident’s resources makes them – and by association short term rental –  the scapegoat for the vain attempt of council to raise revenue through rates to address shortfalls in the various budgets to fix things like our roads and other infrastructure.

The likely target, and motivator, for this proposed action against properties is the short-term rental of the “Granny flats’ that were built without DA fees for the council’s objective of providing more low cost permanent rental opportunities.

HLO has no position on this situation or knowledge as to whether the council has the power to enforce the restriction to long term rental.

I think we all may be appalled at the lack of consultation and the spectre of a force compiling a secret list of potential targets.

Please contact us if you get any notice of proposed action so that we can react appropriately and effectively.


HRIA – Holiday Rental Industry Association

The Holiday Rental Industry Association (HRIA) is the national industry body. I was on the inaugural board and was not satisfied by its focus at the time, so I disengaged. This was some time ago. A new board has recently taken control, and it promises to deliver better representation of owner’s interests.

I declined the invitation to stand for a board position but I am actively working with them to roll out changes to things like the Code of Conduct and a cohesive industry front to present to Government. This process has just commenced and so I will update you as it progresses.


Short Term Rental Insurance

Hopefully all of you have appropriate insurance that covers the short-term rental of your property. It is important to check that your property does comply with local government approvals in relation to building codes and issues such as appropriate smoke alarms, pool safety etc.

Insurance companies accept your application based on self-assessment. However, in the event of a claim, the reality of your circumstances will be rigorously assessed and any non-compliance could compromise your settlement.

There are several insurance products on the market that provide appropriate cover for renting out all or part of your home.

That’s all for this newsletter. Rest assured we’re monitoring Byron Council’s stance closely and we will continue to communicate with members should any changes or progress occur.
John Gudgeon
HLO President