Illegal holiday letting 'puts tourists’ safety at risk'

A PEAK accommodation body has called for the NSW Government to "clamp down" on illegal holiday letting, claiming the practice needs to be regulated because it hurts tourism.

The Accommodation Association of Australia made the comments in response to the report of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Tourism.

The association's chief executive Richard Munro said visitor safety is put at risk by unregulated holiday letting because building fire safety standards for tourism accommodation businesses are much higher.

"While the association understands the important role that holiday rentals play in the tourism industry, the current regulatory regime is not working and should be changed," Mr Munro said.

"Consideration should be given to the NSW Government - and potentially other state/territory governments - stepping in to develop a common framework so that local government will be able to adequately regulate this form of accommodation."

In 10 years we could get to a situation where no one actually lives in Byron - that would mean that no one is volunteering, no one has their kids joining surf lifesaving clubs and no one has enrolled their kids in our schools

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson

The inquiry heard evidence from Byron Bay residents affected by holiday letting, with the Victims of Holiday Letting, Byron Bay group saying the impacts of unregulated letting included "noise at any or all hours, drunkenness of guests, sleep deprivation, litter and garbage, large numbers of motor vehicles spilling onto neighbouring areas, arrivals and departures at unsocial hours, verbal abuse, physical abuse and intimidation from occupants and some owners".

Byron Mayor Simon Richardson told the committee that holiday letting has reduced the number of permanent residents in some communities.

"In 10 years we could get to a situation where no one actually lives in Byron - that would mean that no one is volunteering, no one has their kids joining surf lifesaving clubs and no one has enrolled their kids in our schools," he said.

Byron Shire Council is developing a holiday let strategy looking into potential precincts and registration of holiday letting. However the president of the Visitor Information Association Byron, Cameron Arnold, warned against a crackdown on holiday letting in residential areas.

"If we stopped holiday home letting, Byron Bay would grind to a halt," Mr Arnold said.

"It's the second highest tourist accommodation behind backpackers."

Defining holiday letting

The inquiry defined short-term holiday letting as: people temporarily rent out their private dwelling as a holiday house for short terms (less than 90 days), or continuously rent out investment properties for short term stays.

Holiday letting has become increasingly easier through the advent of internet sites such as stayz.com and airbnb.com, as well as through improved roads, which have extended the range of weekend getaways.

Some of the recommendations from the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Tourism:

  • That the NSW Government publish the results of the trial of the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct.
  • That the NSW Government develop guidelines around camping in self-contained recreational vehicles and non-self-contained vehicles on public land.
  • That the NSW Government provide assistance, where requested by local councils, to examine the possible use of a special rate variation to renew and expand visitor economy infrastructure outside of the standard rate cap.

Markets seek a temporary home

Markets seek a temporary home

Byron markets looking for a home.

‘Horror movie’: Man’s fight to stay alive

‘Horror movie’: Man’s fight to stay alive

The fight to stay alive in the shark capital of Australia