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Byron’s short lets damaging housing availability, research shows

Landlords keen to list properties on Airbnb are forcing tenants out of Byron Bay’s long-term rentals, a new university study has found.

The data comes from a Southern Cross University (SCU) survey of some 800 people conducted last year which looked at the effects of Airbnb in the northern NSW tourism region.

It found that of the 800 surveyed, 223 lived in rental accommodation in the Byron shire and 90 of these had recently been asked to leave their homes so landlords could list the properties for short-term holiday accommodation. 58 said they knew the property was being listed on Airbnb.

Of the 90 asked to leave, 25 had to look outside the shire to find affordable accommodation, with a further 31 having to move to another town within the shire to find a home.

Last year, Byron Shire Council moved to end secondary dwellings owned by Byron residents being used as unauthorised holiday rentals, introducing fines of up to $6000 for non-compliance.

Almost 20 percent of all houses are holiday lets in the town and, according to the council, long-term rentals are disappearing for “all but the most affluent renters”.

Roughly 150 of respondents to the SCU survey said they had been an Airbnb host within the previous 12 months and half of these indicated the money from hosting had allowed them to afford to live in Byron Shire.

But 77 percent of respondents said Airbnb had a negative effect on the availability of affordable housing, with 75 percent saying the short-lets lead to increased traffic and parking congestion and 71 percent saying the industry led to extra costs being placed on ratepayers to provide infrastructure.

NSW minister for planning Anthony Roberts recently announced a ministerial direction inviting Byron Shire to put forward planning proposals trialling 90-day limits in some towns on the number of nights a property can be rented out each year as holiday accommodation.

The limit is half that set by NSW government planning rules agreed last August and due to apply from late 2019, which will allow councils state-wide to impose a 180-day limit per year on the number of nights property can be rented as short lets.

Researcher Dr Sabine Muschter said the SCU team was more than willing to share the results with the council and was interested in co-funding research with other accommodation industry groups to build a further understanding of the short-let industry on the North Coast.

Airbnb has previously urged the shire council to work with it on “fair” regulation of Byron’s short let sector.

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Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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One Comment

  1. Short Term Rental Accommodation has become a scourge upon quiet neighbourhoods. I live in Lake Macquarie and have over the last few months been subjected to our once quiet neighbourhood turned into a quasi hotel from an investor who lives out of the area. The short term rental is mismanaged by an agent who specialises in short term rentals and looking after the owners not the neighbours. Their attitude is that, “It’s holiday season you have to expect more noise, it’s a holiday house. My response was, “this is not a holiday area it is a quiet neighbourhood.” If I wanted to live next to a “Hotel” I would have bought next to one.
    Imagine having new groups of strangers every few days turn up next door ready to enjoy their vacation, who want to sit on balcony’s and talk, drink and part every night. The next day they leave and another lot arrive and do the same thing. This is not normal residential behaviour.
    These greedy investors, this one is an executive of a major food retailer don’t care about the community they are destroying. He has admitted that it is purely a business for him and he can do what he likes with his property. How are we allowing businesses to be set up in residential areas without approval, without development applications and taking a potential long term rental out of the marketplace just so someone can’t get a higher return.
    A bit like the attitude of the short Term tenants we have had to put up with. “We haven’t paid this much money to be told to go inside and shut the doors, we are on vacation.”
    Well the neighbours aren’t on vacation, they are just trying to live their normal lives.
    These Short Term Rentals would be much better utilised as long term rentals to allow families to live in a community where they want to live and work.

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