Tweed Mayor Katie Milne.
Tweed Mayor Katie Milne. Nigel Hallett

Tweed Shire Council praised for Airbnb crackdown

A HOMEOWNERS group against short-term rentals has praised the Tweed Shire Council for its crackdown on Airbnbs.

Last month it was revealed the council had been overwhelmed by complaints about short-term rentals during the past 12 months, which were said to be impacting on neighbouring properties and forcing residents to move out of the region.

The council has since launched a crackdown on short-term holiday letting, threatening property owners with $3000 fines unless they cancel bookings and cease illegal operations.

The State Government is preparing a code of conduct and new planning laws for Airbnb, but until then, local government legislation applies to owners wanting to rent their property.

A spokeswoman for Sydney-based Neighbours Not Strangers, Trish Burt, told the Tweed Daily News the crackdown on Airbnbs in the region was "fantastic".

"I know some very senior public servants who have retired from a career of serving the NSW ratepayers and sunk their life savings into properties on the far north coast, only to find their residential suburb is now penetrated by short-term rentals," she said.

"I think what the Tweed Shire Council is doing is fantastic, it's about time. We haven't to date found a single council willing to legislate it, so bring it on.

"The fact one local council in Tweed is saying they're going to enforce residential zoning, thank goodness. We'd like to see more councils do what the Tweed is doing."

Ms Burt said ordinary bed and breakfast operators were "seeing their life works destroyed by illegal operators", while residents who had worked hard to afford homes were having "their livelihoods shredded" due to misbehaving tenants and holidaymakers.

"A council's failure to act is an abrogation of their fundamental right to ratepayers, so yes, we want every local government administrator to step forward and do the job they're meant to do," she said.

Tweed Shire Council Mayor Katie Milne said Airbnb was "making housing issues in our community even more difficult".

"It's a really big concern for council," she said.

"It's now lawful, even though the State Government has flagged they're intending to bring in legislation that hasn't happened yet.

"In the interim we're doing what we feel is right to protect the community, not only from exorbitant house prices but the impact Airbnb can have. At the moment there's nothing in place to manage that.

"A lot of them are fine but there's an element there causing a lot of trouble to neighbours, it doesn't enhance the community cohesion and it ruins it for everybody else, so it needs to be done in a very sensitive manner.

"If you look at Byron Bay and how Airbnb has had such a huge impact down there, we're starting to see that happen here, not as bad but it's a forewarner that we want to stay on top of it and do whatever we can to protect our residents."

Tweed MP Geoff Provest, who was the deputy chairman for a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into Airbnb in 2016, likened short-term letting to ride-sharing service Uber.

"It's like when we legalised Uber, the market is doing it anyway, let's try and have some form of control but not be too heavy-handed," he said.

"A lot of them are being run correctly but I acknowledge some occasionally make life difficult for the neighbours."

Mr Provest said new laws being introduced would give more rights to neighbours, including a tribunal which would "deal with continuous complaints".

"This has been happening for many years in the Tweed, so let's try and get those rights for the neighbours and get the right balance," he said.