Global travel giant says council risks economic recovery
THE vexed issue of short-term holiday letting has surfaced again as the deadline nears for input on a key planning document.
Last month Coffs Harbour City Council asked for feedback on a discussion paper which could have far-reaching implications for short-term rental accommodation on the Coffs Coast.
The critical issue in the Short-Term Rental Accommodation - Issues and Options
Paper is whether or not to introduce a 180-day limit on non-hosted STRA listings across either the entire LGA or in specific localities.
However, the potential 'night-cap' prompted holiday rental website Stayz - owned by global travel giant Expedia - to repeat calls for Coffs Harbour residents to make a submission in support of retaining its 365-day threshold for holiday rentals.
Stayz corporate affairs director Eacham Curry went as far as saying the proposed cap risked the recovery of the tourism sector.
"While Stayz understands the desire for action by Coffs Harbour City Council and applauds their collaborative approach, the evidence shows that night caps will put the economic uplift of the tourism sector at risk and fail to address the core questions about the impact of short-term rentals," he said.
The proliferation of STRA listings on holiday rental platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz has created a number of issues across communities worldwide in terms of amenity, character, affordability and long-term availability of rental stock.
These issues and subsequent "regulation lag" were cited as reasons for the need for action.
"Night caps and other use restrictions for holiday rentals not only put the economic uplift associated with the tourism sector at risk, but also fail to address the four most consistently raised questions about our industry; namely housing affordability, housing availability, the impact on government resources and service provision, and finally, impact on neighbourhood amenity," Mr Curry said.
"Coffs Harbour City Council would be better served by waiting until the NSW Government introduces its register for short-term rentals and let the data that is collected point to sensible and effective solutions for the industry."
Council declined an invitation to comment on the matter.
The 180 day cap was also questioned by Neighbours Not Strangers convener Trish Burt, who has been campaigning for the State Government and councils to do more to control the STRA industry.
She said just restricting the number of days a STRA could operate would not impact housing affordability and there were already laws in place which could be used to govern STRA listings in residential areas - in the same way as bed and breakfasts were.
"They have removed so many homes from the rental market and it means all those essential workers - they are literally priced out of the rental market," Ms Burt said.
"Their housing options are so minimal … and a lot of them have grown up in those towns and they can't afford to live in our regional communities."
The council discussion paper refers to a "significant shift" in how housing and homes have been perceived, as it became apparent that income generated by STRA letting could exceed returns from ordinary long-term renting.
"Analysis from the University of Sydney's Urban Housing Lab suggests that STRA has removed around 6000 properties from the permanent long-term rental market throughout NSW."
Critically, more than 80 per cent of the 2102 STRA listings on Airbnb and Stayz in Coffs Harbour are whole-home properties.
Visit coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au to find out more or to make a submission.