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'Attack on tourism': Stayz slams council over legal threat

Stayz have urges Byron Shire Council to rethink legal action.
Stayz have urges Byron Shire Council to rethink legal action. Contributed

HOLIDAY rental platform Stayz has called on Byron Shire Council to halt legal action against homeowners who are letting out their properties on short-term rental accommodation platforms.

The move, announced by Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson this week, was labelled by Stayz an "attack on the tourism sector".

Cr Richardson said this week the council was preparing cases against hosts who did not have authority to lease residential properties on a short-term basis.

He said they had been seeking clarity on legislation from the State Government, but so far "the silence from the government is reigning supreme".

Stayz, with 2323 properties currently listed across the Northern Rivers, has appealed to the State Government to refrain from placing too many regulations on short-term rentals, but said they were willing to work with the council to improve the sector.

Stayz Head of Government Relations, Eacham Curry, said that the majority of homeowners who let out their properties on a short-term rental platform basis are mum and dad investors who do not have the time or money to defend themselves against punitive legal action.

"Currently, there is no evidence of any property which is being targeted by the council being listed with Stayz, however we are willing and ready to work with the council on measures that will improve the sector without putting unnecessary financial and regulatory burdens on the sector," Mr Curry said.

"To that end we have recommended to the NSW Government a range of actions which will help to regulate the industry and alleviate the concerns that councils like Byron are currently experiencing."

They include:

  • A centralised system of registration for anyone wishing to let a property
  • A tougher code of conduct for homeowners that includes a "three strikes" rule to remove bad hosts from online short-term rental platforms.
  • An industry funded body to ensure compliance with rules of registration including insurance and safety standards

"While we appreciate the mayor's comments about the importance of tourism to the Byron Bay economy, this latest move will only discourage people from letting out their home on holiday rental platform and drive up the cost of accommodation.

"Renting out a beach shack in Byron Bay has been a holiday pastime for decades, and this popular accommodation type has existed in harmony with the community for many years. In fact, Byron Bay had the vision 30-years ago to recognise that visitors would prefer a more personalised holiday experience and made a decision to support the development of short-term rental accommodation," Mr Curry said.

About short-term rental accommodation on the NSW North Coast:

  • In 2016, short-term rental accommodation generated over $235.2 million in economic uplift and supported up to 1116 jobs

Topics:  byron shire council legal action northern rivers business northern rivers tourism short term rental


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