Byron Shire Council is currently monitoring 180 holiday-let premises in the shire and has already issued notices to two of them advising them to cease, according to Cr Michael Lyon (Greens).
‘Council staff have been working hard to progress two cases and have now issued notices of proposed orders, with development control orders to soon follow to require the ceasing of the activity,’ Cr Lyon said.
‘Separate to this, prosecutions under a different arm of the EPA act are being pursued for past breaches and the hearings are expected to be held shortly,’ he added.
In a 2014 case involving an unauthorised holiday-let property in Gosford, the court ruled its use was ‘prohibited and constituted development without consent in breach of s 76B of the EPA Act’.
In Byron Shire, Cr Lyon says there are currently ‘over 180 properties that we are actively looking into which are suspected of unauthorised STHL’.
Residents who are concerned about unauthorised short-term holiday letting (STHL) can visit the Council web page on STHL and report it, and staff will follow up.
Estate agents, platforms may be liable
Cr Lyon says letters have also been issued to real estate agents in the area, ‘after Council received legal advice suggesting that agents may also be liable for the use of the property if they facilitated a breach of the EPA act’.
‘What is also potentially exciting, is that the reasoning in the case the advice, also suggests that we can target the online platforms too if they facilitate breaches of the EPA act,’ he added.
Cr Lyon added that ‘in Byron, it is essential that entire homes where there is not normally a permanent resident must be returned to the pool of long-term lets’.
‘This pool has become more of a puddle in Byron,’ he added.
Ripping community apart
‘Only last week, a family I know that needed to move, with two full-time working parents, has had to relocate out of the Suffolk Park area due to the lack of availability and affordability of suitable housing.
He said that a call by the minister for more research across NSW ‘will only help’ but added the Coastal Councils Association ‘has already commissioned detailed research and in the case of Byron the jury is in and the verdict delivered’.
‘Unregulated STHL of entire homes on Airbnb and Stayz is ripping our community apart. We must be allowed to rule out certain types of lets.
‘Registration and regulation are essential tools to ensure proper compliance and it is encouraging that the state government appears to be moving in this direction.
‘There has been concern that the lobbying and political donations from the billion dollar platforms might lead to poor decisions here, but there is hope yet,’ Cr Lyon said.