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Byron Bay Residents Support Local Council’s Proposal to Limit Airbnb Rentals to 60 Days

Byron Bay Council has proposed limiting short-term rentals, such as those advertised on Airbnb, to 60 days a year.

This move aims to alleviate housing market pressures in Byron Shire and is expected to be implemented in the middle of next year, pending government approval, according to Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon.

This decision follows advice from the state’s Independent Planning Commission, which recommended the 60-day cap after the New South Wales government halted Byron Shire Council’s attempt to implement a 90-day cap last year.

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The shift from a proposed 90-day cap to a 60-day cap was intended to encourage property owners to enter the long-term rental market while supporting the “incidental use of homes” as holiday rentals.

This move aligns with Melbourne City Council’s recent proposal to reduce short-stay accommodation to 180 days a year in an effort to free up housing stock for long-term rental and address the housing shortage.

Locals Overwhelmingly Support the Move

The Epoch Times sought community opinions on the issue by asking locals via Facebook Groups “Byron Community Board Residents Only,” “Byron Bay Community Board,” and “Northern Rivers Community Board” whether they supported the move to limit short-term stays and why.

Many in the community expressed support for limiting short-stay rentals, as it would free up more housing for locals to rent and contribute to building a more family-friendly local community.

Local resident Rosie Flanagan voiced her support on the “Byron Bay Community Page”, stating, “I support any idea that helps put more houses on the market for locals to rent. We are losing our beloved community!”

Another local, Lewis Edwards, echoed this sentiment on the same Facebook page, saying, “short term rentals ruined the Northern Rivers rental market and made it impossible for young people to find affordable long-term rentals in the area.”

Meanwhile, Julia Chapple, a local posting on the “Byron Community Board Residents Only” Facebook page, welcomed the move as it would help bring families back to Byron Bay, saying, “I’d say that when the 60-day cap comes in, many Airbnb’s will fold, opening up opportunities for long term rentals as well as bringing family back into our shire.”

Some locals More Cautious About the Move

While the move to limit short-stay accommodation received strong support from locals, some expressed concerns. These concerns primarily revolved around the potential impact on tourism in Byron Bay and the financial implications for property owners who rely on Airbnb income.

Critics worried that restricting short-term accommodations could negatively affect local tourism by limiting lodging options, potentially reducing the number of tourists visiting Byron Bay and spending in the local economy.

Local resident James Robert expressed his concerns on the “Byron Community Board Residents Only” Facebook page, stating, “This move could harm the local economy without solving housing issues—a total own goal.”

Karin Lucia Gisler, a “Northern Rivers Community Board” Facebook group member, voiced concerns about the impact on property owners who rely on Airbnb income, saying, “I also see how this cap creates financial distress for homeowners who depend on Airbnb income to pay their mortgages. This change affects people who need the money as well.”

Airbnb Opposes Move, Citing Economic Impact

Michael Crosby, head of Public Policy for Airbnb Australia and New Zealand, has argued that Byron Bay council’s decision to limit short-term stays to 60 nights a year would have a detrimental impact on jobs and the local economy.

“To date, there is minimal evidence to suggest that lowering the nights cap from the existing 180 nights would free up housing availability in the Byron Shire. Economic modelling has shown that a 90-night cap would cost the local economy in Byron Shire over $100 million. A 60-night cap would be even more catastrophic for jobs and the local economy,” Mr. Crosby said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“A significant reduction in short-term rental accommodation availability means Byron Shire will have less capacity to welcome the visitors who make events like Splendour in the Grass, Blues Fest, and the Byron Bay International Film Festival possible.”

Airbnb supports opt-in tourism levies that charge guests a small fee at the time of booking as an alternative to a nights cap.

This approach ensures that every short-term accommodation booking contributes to new housing projects or supports local infrastructure without placing the costs on local ratepayers or small businesses.

Byron Shire Short-Term Rental Accommodation Planning Proposal

The NSW Independent Planning Commission looked into the issue of the impact of short-term rental accommodation (STRA) in the Byron Shire and released its findings in a report on Apr. 23.

Of the twelve recommendations made in the report, the most significant ones impacting STRA include the 60-day cap on exempt non-hosted STRA in all parts of the Byron Shire and a streamlined development consent process for those seeking approval to rent their non-hosted STRA for more than 60 days a year.

Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon expressed satisfaction with the Independent Planning Commission’s report, characterising it as a resounding endorsement of the Council’s ongoing efforts to address local housing supply issues and the availability of long-term rental accommodations within the Shire.

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