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Airbnb fuming at Byron Bay Council’s plan for limiting short-term holiday rentals

Short-stay Airbnb is in turmoil over plans to limit vacation rentals in a popular tourist town to just 90 days a year amid a rental crisis in the area.

Byron Bay Shire Council wants to limit the number of nights per year that property owners can receive short-term stays to free up spaces for local residents who need long-term rental accommodation.

Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon protested the international rental platform, saying the motives are clouded in “smoke and mirrors.”

But Airbnb said the plan is “divisive” and could have “irreversible consequences” for the region’s visitor economy.

It comes as Byron Bay’s rental crisis worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a surge in domestic travelers to the famed holiday spot on NSW’s north coast.

Byron Bay Shire Council Wants To Limit The Number Of Nights Per Year That Property Owners Can Accommodate Short-Term Stayers To Free Up Spots For Locals In Need Of Long-Term Rental Properties (Pictured, A House Up For Grabs On The Short-Term Market)

Byron Bay Shire Council wants to limit the number of nights per year that property owners can accommodate short-term stayers to free up spots for locals in need of long-term rental properties (pictured, a house up for grabs on the short-term market)

Short-Stay Housing Cap Comes As Byron Bay'S Rental Crisis Worsened After The Covid-19 Pandemic Sparked A Surge In Domestic Travelers To The Famed Holiday Destination (Pictured, Byron Bay)

Short-Stay Housing Cap Comes As Byron Bay'S Rental Crisis Worsened After The Covid-19 Pandemic Sparked A Surge In Domestic Travelers To The Famed Holiday Destination (Pictured, Byron Bay)

Short-stay housing cap comes as Byron Bay’s rental crisis worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a surge in domestic travelers to the famed holiday destination (pictured, Byron Bay)

Michael Crosby, Airbnb’s head of public policy, said the cap will place hosts on “a wildly unequal footing” that will have little impact on affordability.

“If a 90-night limit is introduced, it will ultimately hurt guests, local businesses and communities across the area by reducing accommodation choice, availability and affordability,” Crosby said.

“Critically, the Council’s proposal is unlikely to have a major impact on the availability of affordable rental housing … and may have unintended and irreversible consequences for the city’s visitor economy.”

He added that it would make it difficult for permanent visitors to find accommodation for non-holiday purposes, such as access to work, education or medical treatment.

Mayor Michael Lyon Of Byron Bay Shire (Pictured) Protested The International Rental Platform, Saying The Motives Are Clouded In 'Smoke And Mirrors'

Mayor Michael Lyon Of Byron Bay Shire (Pictured) Protested The International Rental Platform, Saying The Motives Are Clouded In 'Smoke And Mirrors'

Mayor Michael Lyon of Byron Bay Shire (pictured) protested the international rental platform, saying the motives are clouded in ‘smoke and mirrors’

CR Lyon told Yahoo News Australia that Airbnb may be concerned about the potential of other areas similarly legislating against them.

“It’s the kind of smoke and mirrors you’d expect [from Airbnb],” he said, adding that something needs to be done about the rental crisis in the area.

“There is such a lack of long-term rental opportunities. We just can’t afford to lose any more homes,” Cr Lyon said.

He said Airbnb is only focused on affordability for tourists and visitors and only wants what’s good for its organization, adding that it needs a “right dose of corporate social responsibility.”

He also dismissed claims that the economy would suffer from the plan with fewer visitors to the area, claiming that hotels would receive more bookings as a result of the limits.

Cr Lyon has added other short-stay rentals that don’t get much holiday traffic and can now attract more visitors, bringing the 90-day limit closer.

He argued that the disequilibrium in the city stemmed from a lack of accommodation for workers in the area, while the number of visitors to the area continues to rise.

Cr Lyon Added Other Short-Stay Rentals That Don'T Get Much Holiday Traffic, Gain The Opportunity For More Visitors, Bringing Them Closer To The 90-Day Limit If The Plan Goes Ahead (An Airbnb Home)

Cr Lyon Added Other Short-Stay Rentals That Don'T Get Much Holiday Traffic, Gain The Opportunity For More Visitors, Bringing Them Closer To The 90-Day Limit If The Plan Goes Ahead (An Airbnb Home)

Cr Lyon added other short-stay rentals that don’t get much holiday traffic, gain the opportunity for more visitors, bringing them closer to the 90-day limit if the plan goes ahead (an Airbnb home)

1669963126 675 Airbnb Fuming Over Byron Bay Council Plan To Cap Short Term

1669963126 675 Airbnb Fuming Over Byron Bay Council Plan To Cap Short Term

Airbnb Head of Public Policy Michael Crosby said the cap will put Byron Bay hosts on “a wildly unequal footing” that will have little impact on increasing affordability (pictured, Byron Bay beachgoers)

Mr Crosby Said The Plan Would Leave The Community 'Deeply Divided' And The Council Would Need To Consider Other Measures To Increase Housing Supply

Mr Crosby Said The Plan Would Leave The Community 'Deeply Divided' And The Council Would Need To Consider Other Measures To Increase Housing Supply

Mr Crosby said the plan would leave the community ‘deeply divided’ and the council would need to consider other measures to increase housing supply

“Now if you walk around town, every catering establishment you go to will have a staffing request. Our municipality has 40 vacancies. This is across the board, so any increase in long-term rental availability will be welcomed,” Cr Lyon said.

Meanwhile, other areas in the NSW city, such as Wategos Beach, which attract heavy tourist traffic, would be exempt from the cap.

But Mr Crosby said the plan would leave the community “deeply divided” and the council would need to consider other measures to increase housing supply.

NSW law allows 180 short-term rental days per year for non-hosted properties, where the owner does not reside on the premises during the stay.

The council plan is due to be resolved by June next year after it has “thoroughly considered all submissions” on the proposal.

1669963127 575 Airbnb Fuming Over Byron Bay Council Plan To Cap Short Term

1669963127 575 Airbnb Fuming Over Byron Bay Council Plan To Cap Short Term

The council plan is due to be resolved by June next year after it has “thoroughly considered all submissions” on the proposal

Cr Lyon Also Refuted Claims That The Economy Would Suffer From The Plan With Fewer Visitors To The Area, Claiming That Hotels Would Receive More Bookings As A Result Of The 90-Day-A-Year Short-Stay Limit (Pictured, A Hotel In Byron Bay )

Cr Lyon Also Refuted Claims That The Economy Would Suffer From The Plan With Fewer Visitors To The Area, Claiming That Hotels Would Receive More Bookings As A Result Of The 90-Day-A-Year Short-Stay Limit (Pictured, A Hotel In Byron Bay )

Cr Lyon also refuted claims that the economy would suffer from the plan with fewer visitors to the area, claiming that hotels would receive more bookings as a result of the 90-day-a-year short-stay limit (pictured, a hotel in Byron Bay )

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