Concern About Vacation Rental Restrictions | Blue Mountains Gazette

Blue Mountains Getaways owner Geoffrey Bott said six months into the start of new NSW Government planning regulations on holiday rentals the problem had become “horrible” to deal with.

The new statewide regulatory framework for short-term rentals went into effect November 1 of last year. This means that non-hosted vacation rental sites are capped at 180 days. But Mr Bott said the Department of Planning’s legal systems did not take into account the days owners stayed in properties, for example.

“It was all poorly thought out,” he said. “The system is not designed to cope with restrictions.”

“It does not take into account the use of the property by the owners with the use of the guests. I have been in contact with the Planning Department about this. They just can’t tell the difference, it there is no installation [for a special owners code]. They said it would be fixed in March, but nothing has happened yet.”

Mr Bott said the government was obviously checking sites like Air B’n’B and to monitor bookings.

“If you’ve been renting your property for, say, 220 nights and have been doing so for years, it’s an unreasonable and unfair business restriction to reduce it to 180 nights.”

It currently has 55 properties under management and appraisals and believes it is the largest rental agency in the mountains, where there are around 500 vacation homes.

He said this could lead to a shortage and impact tourism and he said many people running their own vacation rentals “don’t realize this is brewing”.

“We have the power to change our rates for peak times. But there would be many people who manage their properties themselves, who will find that the carpet has been pulled out from under them at the busiest time of the year. when they run out of permitted nighttime use.”

“You’ll get advice from the Planning Department and have to manually close all available dates in your system – and that’s on the condition that they’re all in sync. If you’re doing all of this manually, it’s a total pain.”

Mr Bott acknowledged the law came into force due to the poor behavior of some Air BnB sub-tenants in apartments which were “upsetting the people who live there”.

“That’s how it was originally very successful, but the hotel lobby was definitely key in trying to reduce the impact of vacation rentals on their business.”

His business is about to hit winter peak and he will have to raise prices for holidaymakers to reduce demand for some properties so they don’t exceed the 180-day rule. Mr Bott said a group of Byron Bay holiday owners had taken legal action to protest the limit.

A Department of Planning and Environment spokesman said: “Our short-term rental policy provides consistency to a previously unregulated industry and balances the positive economic impacts of holiday homes with the need to support local housing markets, and improve housing availability and affordability.

“It also improves customer safety, while reducing impacts on neighbours, and provides better data to help us understand the size and location of the industry, to support future decisions on the supply of accommodations and any adjustments to the policy.”

A review of the policy will take place within two years.

New South Wales became the first state to regulate Airbnb-style rentals in 2018, when it passed planning laws imposing a 180-day cap on investment properties in greater Sydney, including Blue Mountains. Previously, it was up to each municipality to set its own rules for short-term rentals.

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