At a 22 June meeting Byron Shire Council revoked its four-year moratorium on taking action against illegal holiday letting. Council may now launch legal action, including prosecutions in the NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC). Our coalition community group in Byron, Victims Of Holiday Letting (VOHL), has lobbied for more than a decade on this critical issue. VOHL Members congratulated Councillors on their resolve to commence legal action against unlicensed landlords and operators.
Byron Shire now has well in excess of 2,000 residential homes only available to tourists/visitors as short-term lets. Council has finally seen that this is to the detriment of the local community and are particularly concerned that this activity has drastically reduced the availability of affordable rental housing for local residents. It is also acknowledged that such activity impacts dramatically on the home lives of neighbours, with offensive behaviour and intolerable noise acknowledged as sever. Byron Shire Council has authorised the General Manager to issue notices for the purposes of collecting information on homes illegally short-term let.
In all but five NSW Local Council areas, holiday letting of homes without planning consent is illegal - a position that has been supported by consistent NSW Land and Environment Court (LEC) judgments. In the landmark LEC case Dobrohotoff vs Bennic, Justice J Pepper made clear the point that where Councils fail to act: “the council, by its inaction, has, in my opinion, failed to fulfill its core functions and has failed its constituents”.
Meanwhile, a City of Sydney Building Surveyor recently advised a council-nominated spokesperson from one residential building that Council would “look into concerns regarding units that are being used for a use other than permanent residential accommodation”, requesting “please contact Council with these details”. This followed Land and Environment Court Orders obtained by the Council banning rampant holiday letting in the property. Having supplied the details requested by the Council, the spokesperson then received a letter from City of Sydney’s CEO Monica Barone advising that the City would “no longer respond…on issues of short-term letting in Sydney” and referred the resident/ratepayer to the NSW Ombudsman’s office if it were “felt that the City’s decision is unfair”. We now put to Monica Barone and other Councils across NSW: Zoning legislation is only as good as the enforcement behind it. Critically, it comes down to trust in Public Officials to enforce our legislation and if you won't enforce, why are you drawing a wage from residents?
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