Pressure mounts for short-term holiday hosts

Photo: Robert Jones has used Stayz to rent out his one acre property in Mittagong on a short-term basis for the last two years (Charli Shield).

 

In changes before the NSW government, Southern Highlands short-term holiday rental hosts could face tighter regulations that they believe will threaten the regional tourism industry.

The proposed changes, which follow the 2016 inquiry into the regulation of short-term holiday letting through platforms like Stayz and Airbnb, could limit how often hosts let out their properties and force them to pay strata fees.

In July, the NSW government released a public paper outlining options for regulation. It has claimed that a rise in short-term letting increases traffic disruption, threatens neighbours’ safety and puts pressure on shared facilities.

Owner of Southern Secrets Retreat guest house in Mittagong, Robert Jones, said although he welcomes regulation of the industry, a blanket application of the stricter rules across NSW will unfairly impact regional hosts, when the problem is mainly confined to metropolitan areas.

“They are not differentiating between greater Sydney and regional areas. It’s very different – we’re talking about houses in regional suburbia versus an apartment in the city. The risks are nowhere near as high.”

Mr Jones said the changes would likely discourage holiday home letters from continuing to rent their properties, in turn damaging regional economies.

“Whatever the controls may be, and they look pretty gruesome, they will turn investors like me off. And homes like [mine] that are generating probably $40,000-50,000 a year in economic benefit for the area, will go away.”

A recent report (commissioned by Stayz) from ACIL Allen Consulting measuring the economic benefit of short-term rental accommodation showed that in 2016 in the Capital Country region in NSW, it boosted the economy by $32.4 million and supported more than 200 jobs.

Mr Jones also said that regional holiday homes fill an important gap in demand left by the declining growth of hotels and motels.

“People don’t want a hotel, they want a house. [Without holiday homes] travellers from Sydney and elsewhere will become day visitors,” he said.

A spokesperson from the Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Planning Development and Regulatory Services said that they are currently reviewing the proposed changes and preparing a submission, which they will present at a meeting on October 25.

The state government is seeking feedback on the options paper until October 31.

As published in the Southern Highland News, October 2017.

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