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Short stay cap spurs shocked hosts into action

Locals shocked by a North Island council’s plans to limit the number of nights per year short-stay accommodation hosts can rent out properties have packed a meeting to discuss the proposed curbs.

The inclusion of the 90-day cap in the New Plymouth District Council’s draft district plan, currently out for submission, surprised short stay hosts and even some councillors, one telling Stuff he had no idea it was to be part of the plan.

There are currently some 300 New Plymouth homes to rent on Airbnb and almost 200 on BookaBach.

Jo Bourke of Bach Break & Clean Break property management organised the 110-strong meeting, arguing the cap would “rob individual property owners of their rights, hurt our local economy and cost valuable jobs”.

She told Stuff of the council’s proposal: “I’m not against regulating the industry, but it would be nice to be involved in the process and explain how our industry works, how we can address their concerns, and work with the council to get a plan that is good for everybody.”

Alongside the 90-day cap, proposed changes to short-stay legislation include a maximum of ten guests per night, no more than 22 vehicle movements in 24 hours between visitors and residents and no more than eight vehicle movements an hour between visitors and residents.

Council district planning lead Juliet Johnson said nothing had yet been decided, but the changes were about trying to prepare for growth.

“It is kind of an evolving issue, and evolving industry,” Johnson said.

“I suppose the whole point with the residential visitor accommodation is that it is about, that particular rule is about, ensuring that it’s a temporary activity.”

Effectively tracking homeowners renting out their properties through online platforms is among the concerns surrounding the introduction of short-stay caps in New Plymouth.

Latest figures show thousands of operators liable for Auckland Council’s Accommodation Provider Targeted Rate (APTR) are still failing to pay up following short stay’s inclusion in the bed tax scheme last year.

Council staff are struggling to locate offenders without a mandatory registration scheme for property hosts, Stuff estimating from latest figures that some 2636 host properties are not paying the commercial rate.

Auckland Council had spent $1.2 million fighting a legal challenge to the APTR from the commercial accommodation sector, which says it receives only ten percent of the tourism benefit but is expected to shoulder the burden of funding marketing and infrastructure costs.

Queenstown and Wanaka accommodation providers argue the same case in fighting a bed tax proposed for the South Island Lakes District.

Hospitality New Zealand chief operating officer Julie White has called for a central government solution to the issue of short-stay regulation in Aotearoa.

She told AccomNews earlier this year: “The time has come to impose meaningful regulations on the sharing economy. We now need a well thought out, sustainable, centralised strategy for managing this issue across the country.”

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Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: editorial@accomnews.co.nz

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