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Airbnb fuming over Byron Bay council plan to cap short-term holiday rentals

Short-stay accommodation website Airbnb is up in arms over plans to cap holiday rentals in a popular tourist town to just 90 days a year, amid a rental crisis in the area. 

The Byron Bay Shire Council wants to restrict the number of nights a year property owners can host short-term stayers to free up spots for locals who need long-term rental properties. 

Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon hit out against the international rental platform saying its motives are clouded in ‘smoke and mirrors’.

But Airbnb said the plan is ‘divisive’ and could have ‘irreversible consequences’ for the region’s visitor economy. 

It comes as Byron Bay’s rental crisis worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in domestic travellers to the famous holiday spot on the NSW far north coast. 

The Byron Bay Shire Council wants to restrict the number of nights a year property owners can host short-term stayers to free up spots for locals who need long-term rental properties (pictured, a home up for grabs in the short-term market)

The cap on short-term stay properties comes as Byron Bay's rental crisis worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in domestic travellers to the famous holiday spot (pictured, Byron Bay)

The cap on short-term stay properties comes as Byron Bay’s rental crisis worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in domestic travellers to the famous holiday spot (pictured, Byron Bay)

Airbnb Head of Public Policy Michael Crosby said the cap will place hosts on ‘a vastly unequal footing’ that will make little impact to boost affordability. 

‘If introduced, a 90-night cap will … ultimately hurt guests, local businesses and communities across the area by reducing choice, availability, and affordability of accommodation,’ Mr Crosby said. 

‘Crucially, the Council’s proposal is highly unlikely to have a major impact on the availability of affordable rental housing … and may have unintended and irreversible consequences for the town’s visitor economy.’

He added it would make it difficult for permanent visitors who find accommodation for non-holiday uses like accessing work, education or medical treatment.

Byron Bay Shire Mayor Michael Lyon (pictured) hit out against the international rental platform, saying its motives are clouded in 'smoke and mirrors'

Byron Bay Shire Mayor Michael Lyon (pictured) hit out against the international rental platform, saying its motives are clouded in ‘smoke and mirrors’

Cr Lyon told Yahoo News Australia that Airbnb may be worrying about the potential of other areas legislating against them in similar fashion. 

‘It’s the sort of smoke and mirrors you’d expect [from Airbnb],’ he said, adding something has to be done about the area’s rental crisis. 

‘There’s such a dearth of long-term rental opportunities. We just cannot afford to lose more housing stock,’ Cr Lyon said. 

He said Airbnb are just focused on the affordability for tourists and visitors and only wants what is good for its organisation, adding it needs a ‘proper dose of corporate social responsibility’.

He also rebuffed claims the economy would suffer under the plan with less visitors to the area, claiming hotels would get more bookings as a result of the limits. 

Cr Lyon added other brief-stay rentals who don’t get a lot of holiday traffic will now have opportunity for more visitors, moving closer to the 90-day cap. 

He argued the imbalance in the town came from a lack of accommodation for workers in the area, while visitors to the area continue to rise in numbers. 

Cr Lyon added other brief-stay rentals who don't get a lot of holiday traffic will have the opportunity for more visitors, moving closer to the 90-day cap if the plan goes ahead (an Airbnb home)

Cr Lyon added other brief-stay rentals who don’t get a lot of holiday traffic will have the opportunity for more visitors, moving closer to the 90-day cap if the plan goes ahead (an Airbnb home)

Airbnb Head of Public Policy Michael Crosby said the cap will place Byron Bay hosts on 'a vastly unequal footing' that will make little impact to boost affordability (pictured, beach goers at Byron Bay)

Airbnb Head of Public Policy Michael Crosby said the cap will place Byron Bay hosts on ‘a vastly unequal footing’ that will make little impact to boost affordability (pictured, beach goers at Byron Bay)

Mr Crosby said the plan would 'deeply divide' the community and that council should consider other measures to increase the supply of housing

Mr Crosby said the plan would ‘deeply divide’ the community and that council should consider other measures to increase the supply of housing 

‘If you walk around the town right now, any hospitality venue you go to will have a staff wanted sign up. Our local council has 40 positions available. This is across the board, so any increase in the availability of long-term rental stock is going to be welcomed,’ Cr Lyon said.  

Meanwhile, other areas in the NSW town, like Wategos Beach, that attract a lot of tourist traffic would be exempt from the cap. 

But Mr Crosby said the plan would ‘deeply divide’ the community and that council should consider other measures to increase the supply of housing.

NSW legislation allows 180 short-term rental days a year for non-hosted properties, where the owner does not reside on the premises during the stays. 

The council plan needs to be resolved by June next year after it ‘thoroughly considers all submissions’ over the proposal. 

The council plan needs to be resolved by June next year after it 'thoroughly considers all submissions' over the proposal

The council plan needs to be resolved by June next year after it ‘thoroughly considers all submissions’ over the proposal 

Cr Lyon also rebuffed claims the economy would suffer under the plan with less visitors to the area, claiming hotels would get more bookings as a result of the 90 days a year limit on short-stay rentals (pictured, a hotel in Byron Bay)

Cr Lyon also rebuffed claims the economy would suffer under the plan with less visitors to the area, claiming hotels would get more bookings as a result of the 90 days a year limit on short-stay rentals (pictured, a hotel in Byron Bay)

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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