HERE TO STAY: LJ Hooker senior principal Paul McMahon has warned over-regulation of holiday letting could hurt the industry.
HERE TO STAY: LJ Hooker senior principal Paul McMahon has warned over-regulation of holiday letting could hurt the industry. Scott Powick

Spotlight on $700m short-stay industry

OVER-REGULATION could damage the Tweed’s $700 million short-stay holiday industry, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Committee members considered submissions into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting at Tweed Heads on Monday.

Kingscliff LJ Hooker principal Paul McMahon said 27 years of experience in the industry suggested a code of conduct, similar to that used by agents, worked well. But he warned over-regulation could hurt the industry.

“If somebody owns a property, they should be able to decide what to do with it,” Mr McMahon said.

“We don’t need to get heavy-handed, or we could do the Tweed a lot of damage.

“Holidays letting is our biggest industry, worth $700 million, compared to agriculture worth $300 million a year. If it shifts down, you can kiss the Tweed goodbye.”

Destination Tweed chief executive Bill Tatchell said there had been an ‘enormous’ take-up of online bookings through Airbnb and other sites like Stayz and Wotif.

“The sharing economy is not going anywhere,” Mr Tatchell said.

“Council has a moratorium (against short stays) under the LEP, and we support their LEP, so all operators need development applications.

“We’re looking forward to what the government comes up with to make it a level playing field.”

Tweed Shire Council’s co-ordinator of strategic planning, Lain Lonsdale, said there was limited data on short stay websites like Airbnb, but council fielded 10-15 inquiries from residents about the industry each year.

However, Mr Lonsdale said he expected inquiries to rise with Airbnb listings in the Tweed doubling over the past year.

“The industry is seeking clarity around the permissibility of the use,” council’s submission read.

“Letting use may be appropriate within a residential setting, provided safeguards for safety and well-being are established.”

Victims of Holiday Letting representatives from Byron Bay, where holiday letting is prolific, said people were leasing garages or buying multiple properties to cater for demand.

Former Byron Shire councillor Tom Tabart called for short-term letting to be banned in residential zones.

“We have a problem,” Mr Tabart said. “The symptom is the disintegration of the community of our residential village. The infection is short-term holiday lets. The parasite is the absentee landlord in a residential zone.”

The committee, which received 210 submissions, 20% of which were from Tweed and Byron, will meet again in Sydney on March 14.



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