OWNERS of homes offered for short-term holiday letting should be compelled to remain on site, and be available 24/7 to respond to any complaints from neighbours about noise and unruly behaviour in so-called ‘party houses’.
That’s one of the recommendations made this week by Member for Lake Macquarie, Greg Piper, to the state government’s options paper on Short-Term Holiday Letting (STHL) in NSW.
The government is reviewing the growing STHL industry.
STHL has been popularised by online marketplaces such as Stayz and Airbnb.
While STHL is providing many residential home-owners in Lake Macquarie with some welcome income, there have been problems.
Homes in the city are sometimes being leased short term for celebrations, periodically transforming once-quiet streets into party zones, complete with loud and drunken behavior, parking woes, and confrontations between guests and neighbours.
The Independent MP said neither he nor “many of the constituents who I represent” wanted to see STHL stopped.
“It is however very clear that there needs to be a significant review of this industry which has grown rapidly in popularity as new digital media has allowed it,” Mr Piper said.
“The number of residential homes in Lake Macquarie listed on the likes of Airbnb and Stayz has more than doubled over the past year. This is due mainly to the fact that many homes around the shores of Lake Macquarie are desirable locations.”
One resident in Coal Point told Mr Piper that the houses on each side of their waterfront property had been let as STHL for about 200 days each in the past year.
“Some residents have been abused by unruly STHL guests; streets are often parked out with visiting cars; they endure noise at all hours of the night; they at times encounter strangers in their yards who have arrived at the wrong house; and they suffer anxiety every time a new group of people descend on the house next door,” Mr Piper said.
He advocated the regulation of “sensible restrictions” on the way STHL properties were permitted to operate.
“The industry must be appropriately regulated so it can co-exist in residential neighbourhoods,” Mr Piper said.
He urged the government to make it a requirement that the owner of a STHL property live on-site.
“These operations would therefore operate like a traditional bed-and-breakfast operation which has little impact on neighbours or community amenity,” he said.
The number of lettable days per year should be limited because “these are residential neighbourhoods” and not “quasi tourist zones”.
He said there should be a limit on the number of guests permitted to stay in STHL properties, and the introduction of a ‘three strikes’ policy whereby a property that was the subject of three complaints in a year would be suspended from operating as a STHL for a set time.
Mr Piper said regulations in local council planning laws should more clearly establish the parameters within which STHL properties could operate.
“I accept that the [STHL] industry is now generating significant tourism benefits and job creation, but that should not come at the expense of once-quiet, appropriately-zoned, harmonious residential neighbourhoods.”