Let?s negotiate - Holiday letting under scrutiny

By MADELINE DOHERTY

A licensing and regulation regime for people who holiday let their homes in the Byron Shire may soon be introduced following Byron Shire Council's latest moves.

But spokesperson for Tourism Byron, Grant Hawkins wants more co-operation between the community, business and the council before any decisions are made to resolve the problem.

The council wants the Local Government Act amended and it has written to the Minister for Local Government, Tony Kelly and to the President of the Local Government Association, Mayor of North Sydney, Genia McCaffery to request support for the amendment.

Tourism Byron has asked the council to form a joint committee of the major parties to ensure the problem is solved.

"But so far there has been no response from council regarding the request," Mr Hawkins said.

"A lot of effort has gone into creating an environment of co-operation between the business community and the new Hotline number (66266885) for issues related to holiday lettings.

"This is not a problem unique to Byron, it is a state-wide issue and we need to move carefully so that it is not just lip service being applied."

The council is seeking approval to licence holiday letting and to seek legal advice on developing a definition for councils planning instruments.

"Currently there is no provision other than a development application for regulating holiday letting," Byron mayor Jan Barham said.

"It is clear that the use of houses for temporary letting is a commercial use and therefore unlawful in residential zones.

"I have previously raised the issue in council and staff reports have identified the problems with setting up a system to manage the use.

"The tourism industry has responded to community concerns by setting up a security system and developing a code of practice and this is a positive move forward."

Cr Barham said that since the public meeting at the Byron High School in 2003 she had been aware of many locals who do holiday letting during the peak summer period.

She said that some people chose to leave the area when it was busy or to take advantage of visiting family or friends elsewhere.

"In many cases it provides locals with some funds to pay their rates, some saying that if they did not rent out their properties, they may be forced to leave the area," Cr Barhan said.

"The letting of properties during peak periods meets the high tourism demand and in some ways this is preferable to the development of more commercial tourism operations that would then try and attract high levels of tourism all year round to sustain a viable business.

"The holiday letting of homes has seen the dramatic loss of permanent rentals which is having a social impact as housing is becoming both less available and affordable," Cr Barham said.

Mr Hawkins said it was vital that the community, businesses and the council were all involved in the process.


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