Airbnb crackdown: Mayor reveals legal action is under way

6th December 2017 4:00 AM
SOLD Feature - Byron Bay Lighthouse as viewed from Wategoes. SOLD Feature - Byron Bay Lighthouse as viewed from Wategoes. Marc Stapelberg

BYRON'S mayor says the time has come to crack down on Airbnb, and revealed the council was now building court cases against those breaking the rules.

Legal action against Airbnb hosts was "put on hold" in the Byron Shire to give the State Government the chance to provide some clarity around permanent housing and short-term rental accommodation.

"We had pressed pause on legal action," Cr Simon Richardson said.

"But the State Government is not providing any clarity. It is a planning matter - can you have short term letting in a residential area? There are different interpretations."

Cr Richardson said the council wanted to hold off dragging the issue through the courts if the State Government was likely to introduce legislation during the process.

"But the silence from the State Government is reigning supreme," he said.

"As we speak, we are forming some cases. We will go after the easiest culprits. Obviously we want to win the cases we pursue."

Cr Richardson said the tourism industry was in Byron Bay's DNA and the council did not want to stop it, but they wanted short term rentals regulated so they didn't erode the community.

"We are becoming a share economy, whether it be Uber or Airbnb, people are doing it themselves - the legislation has to catch up," he said.

The mayor said he had no problem with people leasing their house while they were on holidays, or leasing a few rooms.

He said the ease of Airbnb allowed more people to view it as a viable income, allowing people to afford to live in Byron Bay.

The negative though, he said, it was taking housing out of the residential housing market.