It's intense: Fear over jumpers
A BILAMBIL Heights home-owner says he is living in fear as a nightmare neighbour allegedly rents out short-term accommodation illegally to backpackers.
Vern Donovan says his next-door neighbour Ella Forsyth had been advertising temporary accommodation in the form of tents and a yurt in her backyard for years, despite being told to stop by the Tweed Shire Council.
The yurt and five other forms of accommodation were listed on the website "Ella's Farm” and advertised as "the perfect weekend escape” before the option was removed from the website over the weekend.
A link to an Airbnb listing is also no longer available.
Mr Donovan said the "illegal eyesores” and other junk leaning against his fence had devalued his and other neighbours' properties.
"One of the neighbours is very sick and has been trying to sell for years but can't sell with people driving past looking at all this,” he said. He said Ms Forsyth had also installed two giant reservoir tanks right next to his fence along with a sewerage line, all without development approval.
After another neighbour complained to council about the situation, they received a letter back saying "appropriate actions have been initiated by council”.
"All short-term holiday letting has ceased at the property and the property owner has engaged the services of town planner to submit a development application for the structure of the property,” the letter stated. But according to the Tweed Shire Council's online DA tool, the last application at the address was placed in 2012 for a two-lot sub-division.
Mr Donovan said backpackers continued to stay at the accommodation under the guise of farm workers. He said he and his neighbours were concerned about their safety as the only thing separating their properties was a low wire fence.
"I'm in my 70s, if three or four backpackers jump over the fence, what am I going to do?” he said. "Two of my other neighbours have been scared for months.”
But Ms Forsyth's daughter, Sarah Timmer- man, told the Tweed Daily News "there is nobody staying on the property”.
"We are working extremely hard with council to make sure everything is done as council wants it done,” she said.
"We did have Airbnb accommodation until we were told we needed DA approval, there are backpackers that work on the farm, but they don't stay there.” A council spokesman said Ms Forsyth was "preparing an application and attempting to satisfy council's requirements”.