Door opens for Airbnb on Tweed

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AN 18-MONTH NSW parliamentary inquiry into short-term letting has recommended that short-term letting be allowed with regulations for hosts that rent the property for long periods.

The inquiry was held in Tweed Heads and Sydney with Member for Tweed Geoff Provest MP the Deputy Chair of the Committee.

Short-term rentals are currently prohibited in the Tweed Shire in all rural areas and the majority of residential areas. Tweed Shire Council told the committee there are upwards of 2,000 short-term holiday lettings in the Tweed.

The report recommends that short-term letting of rooms in any property where the landlord or host is present be permitted as exempt from a development application.

For properties that are empty the report recommends that these properties be exempt from a development application if the number of nights the property is rented for does not exceed a threshold.

The Department of Planning will decide what the appropriate threshold is. Tweed Shire Council has proposed an amendment to their Local Environment Plan (LEP) which will recognise the use of a property for short term letting as an exempt development up to a maximum of 60 days a year. Owners wanting to make their property available beyond this period will be able to submit a development application for a merit assessment. Local councils will be responsible for communicating with all landowners about their rights and obligations.

Short-term rentals can be an issue for residents of strata buildings and the committee has recommended that the NSW Government considers amendments to strata regulations to give owners corporations more powers to manage and respond to adverse behaviour resulting from short-term letting in their buildings.

The report recognised that there are very few complaints made about short-term letting, “however, there is potential for more complaints without appropriate land use planning controls”.

“Complaints heard from stakeholders about the impacts of short-term letting on the quiet enjoyment of their properties are real and serious, and can be addressed within the existing land use planning regulations,” the report read.

Tweed Shire Council has chosen to defer action against people conducting this activity unless there is a specific issue that is causing distress to a complainant.

Tweed representatives reported that Council receives 10 to 20 complaints each year from its 2,000 short-term rental properties

Tweed Shire Council also intends to introduce an accompanying policy providing additional framework for the ongoing management of short-term rental properties. This policy will highlight the importance of guests and owners being aware of neighbourhood amenity and minimising disturbing behaviour. It will also outline certain terms and conditions which must be agreed to in a contract between the guest and property owner and include compliance action and fines if guidelines are breached.

The report has also recommended that landlords must hold appropriate insurance cover to be compliant with the Code.

The committee findings have been tabled in the NSW Parliament awaiting a Government response within three months.