Byron's illegal holiday let party over
SICK and tired of residents suffering loud music, mess and disruptive neighbours, Byron Shire councillors have voted to set the law onto those illegally letting properties.
Byron Shire might be the go-to holiday destination but for many residents, the party ended years ago.
While house prices continue to rocket in the popular surf town, a great many home-owners are frustrated by the constant noise and disrespect shown by visitors who rent properties in suburban areas.
Along with the recent prosecution relating to an illegal doof party held close to town, it seems time is finally being called on people renting out their homes illegally.
At a meeting on Thursday, Byron Shire councillors voted unanimously to reinstate legal action against illegal holiday letting, a move which will impact on property owners using websites such as Airbnb to find clients.
Byron Shire Council's legal services coordinator, Ralph James, said a sense of frustration has led to council lifting its moratorium on legal action against unauthorised tourist and visitor accommodation.
"As there is currently no state-wide policy direction of Short Term Rental Accommodation, council has tried to work within the parameters of amending its Local Environment Plan," he said.
"Yesterday's meeting will see the LEP planning proposal again amended to allow exempt development provisions. This means that some properties would not require a development application to provide tourist and visitor accommodation," he said.
The amended planning proposal will be sent to the Department of Planning and Environment for finalisation in accordance with the amended Gateway Determination.
Mr James said in the meantime, if there was no state environmental planning policy in place by 1 July 2017, council would consider commencing legal action against unauthorised tourist and visitor accommodation, on a case by case basis, and in accordance with its compliance priorities.
"Presently council only looks at unauthorised tourist and visitor accommodation in respect of issues of fire, safety and environmental harm," he said.
Victims of Holiday Letting coordinator, Doug Luke said he's greatly encouraged by the fresh approach and willingness shown by councillors to outlaw organisations such as Airbnb.
Mr Luke said a considerable amount of people have moved out of Byron Bay because their residential street has become overtaken by noisy tourists.
"VOHL is hopeful council can produce a policy to regulate this activity which is a major blight on our residential neighbourhoods (as) the claim of impacts on community viability was particularly strong in evidence received from Byron Bay," he said.
"We are an organisation representing the poor buggers who have a holiday let next door which is ruining their life, who are triple-glazing their house and people should not have to it."
But he said VOHL is not so optimistic about the state government protecting residents on this issue.
Also, Mr Luke said he believed The Department of Planning and Environment is putting constraints in the way of Byron Shire in developing a successful policy to outlaw illegal holiday letting.
"Many of the protections of residents that council and VOHL worked to include in the policy have been rejected by the DPE," he said.
It seems the battle over Byron Bay retaining the crown as the region's illegal holiday hot-spot has only just begun.