Illegal rentals in firing line

BYRON Shire Council has shut down its second illegal hostel in six months as part of a crackdown on illegal and unsafe commercial accommodation in Byron Bay.

The action comes during well- publicised court proceedings against so-called "slum landlord" Shai Major, accused of providing illegal accommodation to 18 "schoolies" late last year.

The property in the latest raid consisted of two adjacent units in the Byron Arts and Industry estate, privately leased by a Byron Bay man who last Friday was issued with charges relating to using the premises as a hostel and unauthorised building works.

Two makeshift doorways were cut between concrete walls separating the two units on both mezzanine and ground floors.

Illegal bedding arrangements in place for "guests" included multiple double bunks and bedrooms.

A number of young adult males and females were in the premises at the time of the raid.

Mr James said Council's focus on illegal commercial accommodation in Byron Bay reflected a shift of council compliance priorities

"This year our very high priorities include developments or works that place people's lives at risk - that includes places of commercial shared accommodation, specifically illegal or unsafe holiday let establishments."

A local hostel manager involved in the industry for over five years said guests staying in illegal accommodation "could be bad-mouthing Byron Bay because they are staying in unsafe accommodation".

Mr James echoed these concerns, in a statement yesterday, saying "by ending these kind of practices, Council is seeking to keep visitors safe, maintain resident amenity by ensuring tourism is carried on in a sustainable way and protect the business of legitimate tourism operators who are doing the right thing".

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