An Airbnb property in byron Shire for rent.
An Airbnb property in byron Shire for rent. Contributed

Holiday letting 'nightmare': Desperate fight to save the Bay

A NEW report has revealed that more than 17 per cent of all housing in Byron Bay is listed on online rental platforms such as Airbnb.

The University of Sydney study was commissioned by the Australian Coastal Councils Association.

It has argued that planning processes are failing to deal with the huge and growing popularity of short-term letting, because rules are difficult to enforce.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson told the Australian Financial Review that short term letting had "gutted" the town's long-term rental market, making it "impossible" for locals to stay.

The report comes as a community campaign to "save Byron from over-tourism" held a meeting last night.

The group of concerned residents and approved accommodation operators joined forces to lobby the NSW State Government to grant exemption to Byron Shire Council from the new Short Term Holiday Letting Laws due to take effect in January 2019.

The Byron Shire Local Environmental Plan already prohibits the use of rural or residential houses for tourism unless a Development Application is lodged and is approved for the use of short term stays.

But the NSW Government's new laws will override these rules.

"Byron Shire is a unique destination and we are most at risk with this new law of running Byron into the ground," Byron Shire approved accommodation operator Geoff Wood said.

The group has launched a petition on GetUp and needs 10,000 signatures to get the petition heard in Parliament.

Sign the petition here

"The petition is asking for Byron Shire to be exempted from this new law that will effectively allow booking websites such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Luxico and Stayz to run even more rampant with an expected flood of unregulated holiday houses that have not gone through any compliance, due diligence or restriction," Mr Wood said.

"We are possibly the worst regional area to be affected by this new Holiday Letting Bill as we have 2.2 million tourists visiting Byron shire annually that are being supported by a rate base of only 15,000 residences."

"The community is really divided over this, as there would be at least 4,000 unregistered holiday lets already, but once the new law takes effect, this number will explode and we will lose more residential homes to holiday letting when finding a rental is already hard enough as it is.

The group held a community meeting on last night at the Cavanbah Centre in Ewingsdale with a a line-up of speakers from community, business, council and government.