Airbnbs driving residents out of Tweed

TWEED Shire Council is cracking down on Airbnbs and other short-term holiday rentals, fearing residential apartment blocks "are becoming more like informal hotels".

Property owners are being threatened with $3000 fines unless they cancel bookings and cease illegal operations.

The council has been overwhelmed by complaints in the past 12 months and is even blaming poor behaviour by short-term tenants and high rents for driving residents out of the shire.

Short-term rentals have become so common caravan parks, hotels and motels have apparently been "experiencing financial woes as they no longer can compete with platforms such as Airbnb".

Short-term holiday letting is becoming increasingly common in the Tweed Shire. Photo: Supplied.
Short-term holiday letting is becoming increasingly common in the Tweed Shire. Photo: Supplied.

Council documents reveal at least 68 complaints have been made in the past year about prohibited tourist and visitor accommodation in properties zoned residential.

A compliance officer wrote that the council receives "numerous complaints" about the "impact of short-term holiday accommodation on neighbourhood amenity in terms of noise, privacy, traffic volume and infrastructure".

"Council have been inundated with so many complaints on short-term holiday letting over the last 12 months. It has become a very big problem in the shire," she said.

Complaints include noise "impacting on quality of life of neighbouring properties" and "swearing, fighting, smashing bottles, shouting and parties until all hours of the night".

A Gold Coast Airbnb listing.
A Gold Coast Airbnb listing.

Residents are being driven from the Tweed by short-term holiday rentals, according to the council.

"Local residents are now being forced to move away from the Tweed Shire area as there are no places for long-term rentals," the documents read.

"This is causing a loss of community. Residents have sold up and moved away because of poor behaviour by short-term rental tenants nearby and by the lure of the high prices being offered.

"This leads to a loss of community as there is a shortage of long-term residents and an influx of constantly turning over tenants who have no local ties and no desire to fit in."

Some owners are very happy with Airbnb. Photographer: Liam Kidston
Some owners are very happy with Airbnb. Photographer: Liam Kidston

The NSW Government is introducing an industry Code of Conduct, new planning laws and changes to strata scheme by-laws.

But "local legislation will still prevail" in the meantime, the council documents state.

An Airbnb spokesman replied that hosts and guests make "a significant contribution to the Tweed and New South Wales economy".

He said almost a billion dollars was injected into NSW each year, supporting more than 7000 jobs - but data focusing on the Tweed was not provided.

The spokesman said there have been "more than half a billion guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are extremely rare".

"Even so, we're constantly working to keep our hosts, guests and local communities safe because even one incident is one too many," he said.

"We have zero tolerance for bad behaviour and we will take action if a user fails to uphold our high community standards.

"Our Neighbour Tool allows neighbours to flag any concerns they might have about a listing."

The spokesman said Airbnb was a strong supporter of "incoming fair rules for home sharing in NSW".