HOLIDAY LETTING: Exactly who is who in the holiday letting zoo?
HOLIDAY LETTING: Exactly who is who in the holiday letting zoo? Christian Morrow

New letting policy fight

IN WHAT many described as a previously done deal, the State Government this week voted to adopt a new policy around Short Term Holiday Letting.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith has described the plan as a Trojan Horse, a view echoed by Trish Burt from the organisation Neighbours Not Strangers.

Both believe the The Fair Trading Amendment (Short-Term Rental Accommodation) Bill 2018 will be followed soon by NSW Planning/Housing Minister Anthony Roberts making changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] to allow short-term rental as exempt development in all residential premises.

They warn the changes to the SEPP when operating in concert with the new Short Term Holiday Rental Accommodation Bill will leave Byron Shire Council with no ability to regulate Short Term Holiday Letting in the Shire.

Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin has hailed the bill he says will implement a mandatory code of conduct to address a range of issues, including a new dispute resolution process to resolve complaints.

"NSW Fair Trading will be given powers to police online platforms and letting agents. Importantly, hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the code within a two-year period will be banned for five years and listed on an exclusion register,” he said in Parliament.

Geoff Wood, from the NSW Approved Accommodation Accord and Byron Hinterland Collective, said the new bill was weak and doesn't solve anything.

Local Approved Accommodation Providers are incensed that the businesses they built, spending large sums on compliance and council approval and paying commercial rates, are devalued with anyone able to operate as an accommodation provider. Many are considering taking legal action.

"We are still keen to pursue class action because the expensive DAs and permits we have put together have been made worthless, so of course we will be looking at some kind of legal recourse,” he said.

"They (the state government) have not listened to our concerns and it is unclear whether any of the rules for compliance they have flagged are even enforceable.

"The foreshadowed amendment to the SEPP will also leave council out on a limb and unable to drag anyone into line.”

Ms Smith said will be introducing an amendment into the Environmental Planning Assessment Act to ensure that Byron Council can retain the ability to regulate the short term holiday letting market in Byron Shire.