Byron managers attack ?black market? rentals
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
A GROUP of 15 onsite managers of holiday apartments in Byron Bay have banded together in support of Byron mayor Jan Barham's crackdown on illegal holiday homes.
The managers say substandard, illegal holiday rentals are damaging Byron Bay's reputation and undermining the legitimate tourist accommodation businesses.
They say their guests had told them stories of private home-owners charging exorbitant fees for shoddy houses over the Internet, including one that had an outdoor loo covered in spiders, of a family sent to a house that had no roof because it was still being renovated, and anecdotal reports of overcrowding and backyards being turned into psuedo-camping grounds.
The black market in holiday homes is undercutting legitimate operators, the managers claim.
"There's a lot of people letting for cash, and we can't compete against a black market," Maurie Byrne, manager of the Mariner Bay Apartments said.
"And we get feedback from our customers of the substandard accommodation being offered."
"People will start thinking that Byron Bay is a rip-off," Crest Apartments manager Terry Peacock warned.
The group is concerned that illegal operators promoting their homes as holiday accommodation do not have to follow any safety or quality standards.
"If there's no checks and balances, how do you control the standards?" Mr Peacock said.
"Our members run legitimate businesses in properties that conform to the Building Code of Australia, Australian Standards, Federal and State legislation, and comply with local council guidelines," he said.
The managers, who 12 months ago formed the Byron Bay Northern Rivers branch of the Management Rights Association (NSW) Inc., say they fully endorse Cr Barham's crackdown on the illegal use of residential houses as short-term holiday rentals.
Under Cr Barham's plan, holiday letting in residential zones would be limited to two months each year in an effort to stem the growing complaints of residents living next door to all-year-round party houses and their associated noise and garbage problems.
"It's long overdue," Graeme McDonald, manager of The Oasis Resort, said.
"We're not against holiday letting. We are against it being unregulated," he said.
"Things get to bursting point when it's unmanaged," Dianne Kirby, manager of Mariner Bay Apartments, said.
"You just have a town bulging and groaning at the seams. Let's have a vision and a plan," she said.