1,000 signatures reached
To: NSW State Government Premier Gladys Berejiklian & Minister Matt Kean
Dear Premier Gladys Berejiklian & Minister Matt Kean,
We urge the NSW State Government to grant special exemption to Byron Shire Council to have the ability to set their own Short Term Holiday Letting (STHL) policy. This can be enforced under Byron Shire's own LEP which currently prohibits STHL unless a DA is lodged and the property becomes compliant with current regulations.
Byron Shire may possibly be the worst regional area affected by this new STHL Bill with 2.2 million tourists to Byron shire annually and a rate base of only 15,000. Byron Shire is the 2nd most popular tourist destination in NSW, only 2nd to Sydney.
As a unique destination most at risk, we therefore request that Byron Shire be exempt from this new Bill which will allow booking websites such as AirBnB, Booking.com, Expedia, Luxico and Stayz to run even more rampant with an expected flood of unregulated houses being let as "pop up hotels" with no compliance, due diligence or restriction.
Residents & Approved Accommodation Operators of the Byron Shire
Why is this important?
It is important to protect the residents and community as well as approved accommodation operators, to protect their local residential amenity from the detrimental effects of the new Bill recently passed by the NSW State Government which will come in to effect in 2019.
Residential houses and apartments are built for the specific purpose of domestic use and not built or rated for commercial use unless a second development application has been lodged to change the purpose of the building to commercial use.
Short Term Holiday Letting is just that - it refers to the short term use of a property - meaning for a limited number of days - not every day. The every-day use of the building for tourism constitutes a commercially operated business.
Residents who are neighbours of these STHL properties are being victimised and denied their residential amenity. Approved operators are also disadvantaged with a playing field that is far from level. Genuine operators have abided by the law and are now being under-mined by this Bill.
Houses and homes are not meant to be party venues or pop-up hotels. Residential houses are meant to be used as permanent housing which is the intended purpose of residential zoning.
While our zoning laws are not being upheld, our community continues to deteriorate.
Affordable housing is already in very low supply in our area and virtually nonexistent. Homelessness is on the rise and the impact on our community is highly visible – with scout groups shutting down and whole streets being made into pop-up hotels rather than being used for residential housing.
Our zoning laws are being ignored which were designed to protect the community. Many of our residents are citing no sleep in 2 years and some have shared their experiences of verbal and physical abuse by STHL guests. The owners of these properties think it is their right to run unregulated tourist accommodation from residential premises and have also been cited as causing abuse to neighbours. This Bill is creating hostility and is dividing the community.
There are minimal choices available for permanent housing as rental prices are exorbitant, however there’s also an invisible homelessness occurring – these are the folks that do have rentals but are evicted for incidental tourism.
For example, we have been contacted by a resident that is evicted from her rental for 4-5 months of the year because her landlord insists in profiting from a higher tariff during the music festival weekends and peak seasons such as Christmas and Easter.
This particular resident is a professional who operates two businesses and has a 6 year old daughter - this is not only a housing issue but also a human rights issue and duty of care with children. In those times that this resident’s landlord evicts her for weekends or weeks at a time, she sleeps in her car with her child. This 6 year old falls asleep at school.
This issue will continue to systematically and quickly rip our community apart. We fear that we are heading for ghettos in our quiet residential areas and this has recently led to increased burglaries with streets full of empty houses.
Byron’s infrastructure and roads are also being eroded and without enough funding from Council to maintain these amenities, our infrastructure will fall further into disrepair. Enforcing these STHL to become compliant and paying commercial rates will give Council the ability to raise revenue from our tourists in a fairer way rather than a voluntary tourism tax.
We want to offer an amazing experience to our visitors, have our residents engaged, and support a community that offers accommodation and a lifestyle for diverse economic backgrounds.
Please hear us when we say that Byron Shire is heading for ruination if we are not granted exemption from this Bill.
Byron Residents & Approved Operators