A map of Yamba showing the prevalence of short term rental properties in the town.
A map of Yamba showing the prevalence of short term rental properties in the town. Contributed

Short-term rental rule changes 'heavy handed'

CHANGES to short-term rental regulations for coastal regions of the Clarence Valley are heavy handed and unnecessary, says a real estate spokeswoman.

The principal/licensee for Elders Yamba Maclean, Vikki Seekamp, said Clarence Valley Council's response to a State Government framework to allow short-term rentals in R2 residential zones was not backed by statistics.

The rise of companies, such as Airbnb, which allow property owners to rent out homes or investment properties for short periods, have alarmed property owners who fear they could find themselves living next to "party houses" in a formerly quiet residential neighbourhoods.

But Ms Seekamp, whose firm has the largest book of rental properties on the Clarence Coast, said the statistics did not back up these fears.

"Where are all the complaints?" Ms Seekamp said.

"The council itself said there have been only four to six complaints.

"I've spoken to the police and they say their call-outs to so-called party houses are more likely to be to long-term tenants or permanent residents.

"They've told me they know where the problems are and they will take action when they need to."

Ms Seekamp said the changes could have a ripple effect through the community, including job losses.

"If we don't have enough places for the people who want this sort of accommodation, they will go elsewhere, like Brunswick-Byron area," she said.

"It's going to mean people like cleaners and people who own cafes are not going to have as much work, so there will be jobs to go as well."

Ms Seekamp said the council should be leaving all rentals at 365 days so property owners did not have two sets of rental regulations.

"A better option would be to have a system where, if a property had say three complaints against it, they could shut it down," Ms Seekamp said.

The council's environment, planning and community director, Des Schroder said short-term rental would be allowed in low-density residential areas of the Clarence Valley for the first time under the new laws.

Mr Schroder said the government adopted a short-term rental accommodation planning framework that allowed for short-term rentals of between 180 and 365 days a year in residential areas and asked councils across the state to identify how they would implement the framework.

In response, Clarence Valley Council resolved to submit an expression of interest in allowing short-term rentals for 180 days a year in R2 low density residential coastal areas (Yamba, Iluka, Angourie, Wooloweyah, Brooms Head, Sandon, Wooli, Diggers Camp and Minnie Water) but allowing short-term rentals for 365 days a year in all other residential areas where tourism pressures were not as pronounced and was allowed with a development application previously.

The council has also requested for those who want to let more than 180 days in the R2 zones to be able to apply for a development application.

Under the NSW Government framework, short-term rental will be permissible 365 days a year where the property owner is on site.

Mr Schroder said that previously short-term rental was not permitted in R2 residential zones, even though the activity was widespread.

"The new framework potentially makes that legal for the first time and the proposed registration system by the NSW Government allows the activity to be regulated for the first time," he said.

"(The) council, in its submission, is trying to balance neighbourhood and economic impacts.

"It should be noted most areas on the Yamba hill are not in an R2 zone and are not covered by the council resolution."

Mr Schroder said the council was also seeking assurances the Department of Fair Trading would be resourced adequately to meet the compliance and registration requirements.