Byron Shire deputy mayor Cr Michael Lyon.
Byron Shire deputy mayor Cr Michael Lyon. Contributed

Bring on Byron solution

NEWLY-elected Deputy Mayor of Byron Shire Michael Lyon has urged the NSW Premier and Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for the Northern Rivers Ben Franklin to give details of what provisions could be put in place to mitigate the impacts of Short Term Holiday Letting in Byron Shire.

Cr Lyon also said it is imperative that real estate speculators and absentee landlords are shut out of the Byron STHL market so locals have a chance to find stable accommodation in their own town.

His call comes as the State Government considers council feedback on the soon to be implemented framework for short-term rental accommodation (STRA) in NSW. The framework also includes an industry-wide mandatory Code of Conduct and changes to strata legislation.

On a visit to Byron Shire in August, Ms Berejiklian told the BSN that she had sympathy for local Approved Accommodation Accord and Byron Hinterland Collective members despairing at the loss of value in their businesses now they are competing against online platforms such as Airbnb. She also had concerns for locals unable to find suitable, affordable rental properties

"We have to find the right balance... I do understand why they feel that way,” Ms Berejiklian said at the time. "That's why I am looking forward to what ongoing discussions Ben (Franklin) and the mayor could have with the minister about what specific and unique circumstances the Byron community might enjoy.”

Cr Lyon's call for details of a "Byron solution” comes in the wake of Council's vote to "request a deferral of Byron Shire from the new state-wide planning rules to enable a full consideration of the current impact of, and that of the proposed planning rule changes to legitimise short term rental accommodation on Byron Shire in terms of environmental, social and economic impacts.”

In feedback to the government, Byron Council asked that the number of days a home may be holiday let is dropped from 365 to just 90 days and "require the 'dwelling' used for short term rental accommodation to be the principal place of residence of the owner.”

"There remains a massive question mark over resourcing for council should we be the organisation left to carry the can on maintaining a register of holiday lets and following up with inspections and enforcement of any code of conduct,” Cr Lyon said.

"The key to solving this problem in our shire is to make sure the real estate speculators and absentee landlords are not part of the Short Term Holiday Letting market here,” Cr Lyon said.

"No, matter how many days STHL is permitted in the shire be it somewhere between 90 and 365 days, these speculators will find ways to circumvent those restrictions and holiday let their properties on a continuing basis.

"The explosion of holiday letting in our shire overturns decades of planning around residential zones and leaves many locals unable to find anywhere to rent let alone finding anywhere affordable to live.

"Even if the number of days is restricted, the best case scenario will be that six-month leases will be available to local working families who will then have to vacate the home so landlords can make money holiday letting during the peak holiday periods.

"The best way to control this is to make sure property owners are required to be in residence to list their homes on these sharing sites,” Cr Lyon said.

Figures from the monitoring site have indicated there are more than 3,916 entire homes and apartments available full-time on Airbnb. Other software used by the Approved Accommodation Providers network indicate that number of unique houses and apartments available full-time on around 15 so-called sharing platforms may be closer to 5,600.

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