UNFAIR COMPETITION: Greens NSW MP Jan Barham believes unregulated online accommodation
UNFAIR COMPETITION: Greens NSW MP Jan Barham believes unregulated online accommodation DAVID NIELSEN

Inquiry: Airbnb leading to Byron housing shortage

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry into the adequacy of regulation of short-term holiday letting in New South Wales has attracted submissions which linked the boom of online holiday rental agencies such as Airbnb to Byron Bay's housing shortage.

According to a submission made by Greens NSW MP Jan Barham, unregulated and disingenuous landlords on Airbnb and Stayz were competing unfairly with approved tourism providers, while contributing to anti-social behaviour and a decline in community participation.

"I think some kind of registration process is needed," Ms Barham said.

Submissions will be reviewed when NSW Parliament returns on February 16.

The inquiry is investigating how short-term holiday letting is currently managed in NSW and comparing it with what happens in other states and overseas.

The former Byron Bay mayor said genuine Byron Bay residents looking to list their spare room online should not be penalised at the expense of out-of-town, black market operators who provided no development contributions or rates.

"Airbnb originally promoted itself as an option for the renting out of a spare room and an opportunity for visitors to stay with locals and share an experience that is enhanced by that local knowledge and connection," Ms Barham said.

"This situation promoted an opportunity for residents to not only gain additional income but to also be part of the tourism market in a personal way, inviting people into their homes and allowing visitors to get to know 'real' locals and gain understanding of the location from a local's perspective.

"However, it has now been determined that approximately 60 per cent of AirBnb properties are entire homes.

"The loss of payment to council for a commercial use, means that the community is subsidising the commercialisation of residential areas, without any payment to council."

Byron Shire Council will also be reviewing submissions to amend the Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014 provisions relating to short-term rental accommodation.

The council planning proposal aims to introduce a special provision to define and then require development consent for short-term rentals.

It also aims to establish the circumstances in which short-term rental accommodation would be exempt from requiring development consent.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson said proposed amendments included a "three strikes and you're out" policy on operators which attracted anti-social behaviour.

"Too much short-term letting can destroy the integrity of the community," he said.

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