Airbnb Restricted Zones within Noosa Shire, where and is it fair?
The Noosa Shire Council has been intending to implement zones which restrict both short-term lets and make Noosa a "party free" zone for a few years now. It's not a new concept and the likelihood that the changes are passed are very probable in the near future.
There are two sides to everything and whilst I do understand how a tourism levy could be fair to inject some more money into the Council, what are the impacts on the community? The local business's only thrive because of Noosa's famed reputation.. its stunning coastline, beautiful weather, amazing food and of course the "place to be" in Hastings Street. The Noosa Shire is a tourist mecca, no matter which way you look at it and the fact that Airbnb rates are so high, shows that there is clearly a lack of accomodation in the area, especially in peak seasons. However the scary part for property owners is that many have invested already in these proposed zones with the intention of short-term letting on Airbnb or Homeaway (formally Stayz) and have based their ability to be able to sustain mortgage repayments based on that very fact. Anyone who purchased post 2006 even outside of the zones will need to seek permission to be able to continue short-term letting.
The clear losers in this scenario are those who are going to have no choice but to sell because they can longer afford to keep their property. An even bigger hit will be finding it hard to now sell those investments for a fair price because most potential purchasers in Noosa can only justify the high Real Estate prices based on the fact that, IF they want to short-term let to cover expenses, then they can. In that regard it seems very unfair to existing property owners.
There are a lot of people who make good returns on their investment through Airbnb, and rightfully so. They've acquired those properties through whichever means they could, probably in most cases by working very hard, and to prove to a bank that they can afford to buy them (one day, from the bank). A lot of those people actually buy property in Noosa with the intention of moving one day themselves and it enables them to be able to do so. If they aren't moving here then they holiday frequently because they love coming here and in the mean time allow other people to enjoy their property . Lets also not forget that these people are tax payers, they pay the rates on their properties every year, they've paid their duty to the government and they pay tax on their rental income. Behind these properties that the council simply view as a "short term let" is just your everyday hard working Australian, most likely with a family to support and looking to get ahead or make ends meet.
That being said, it is looking like it will go ahead. The same restrictions have already been imposed in Byron Bay, which has also now pushed for a 90 day a year restriction on short-term lets, much more aggressive than the 180 days imposed in the Greater Sydney Area and the current 180 day limit in Byron Bay. There are similar proposed restrictions in areas such as The Margaret River in Western Australia who would like to follow the lead of NSW and yet the whole of WA is crying out that tourist numbers have dropped and they need $130m from the State Government to inject tourism back into their economy. Source here: https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/tourism/airbnb-steps-up-fight-against-wa-holiday-hotspot-lockout-ng-b881088941z
If the Noosa Shire Council was to restrict the amount of days allowed to let, or restrict entire zones entirely.. would that follow on effect then be less tourism to the area which takes money out of the pockets of hard working locals? It's certainly going to have a negative effect on property prices, rental rates, and then that does effect local businesses and local people.
Whether locals Councils, Governments or disgruntled locals are bothered by what I see as a "demonised" Airbnb industry by the media. They really need to consider not only the follow on effects but surely respect a property owners decision, that they rightfully own, to be able to use their property as they see fit (in a respectful way). The future of the peer to peer platforms such as Uber, Airtasker and Airbnb, are here and here to stay. Lets hope that the decisions made by the council don't cause a regression in the property market, local job market and local business economy. The fact that the Sunshine Coast is thriving should be seen as positive and it should be done with balance. I will give credit where credit is due, the council wants to protect the integrity of the local area and its pristine eco-system, I strongly applaud the efforts made to protect Noosa and I would never want to see tourism jeopardising this Unesco protected biosphere area. But there has to be a balance in sustainable growth, progression and protection of the environment.
There could be a better alternative.. what about mandatory requirements that all Airbnb and other short-term lets are managed by specialised and local Airbnb/Short-term let property managers? The very issues that have arisen have been the complaints from locals effected by noise, partying, excessive vehicles and the occasional unruly behaviour incident.. issues that arise from poor management. A property that is managed by an interstate owner that could have no real regard for the other property owners, will be most likely the property that has the issues. All of this could be much better addressed by quality management with a no party and no excessive noise policy. When you are a management company with a firm, zero tolerance policy that is enforced then I can't see the issues coming up even nearly as much and perhaps this could be a better and fairer solution for everyone.
Please see the Noosa Shire Council website for further details regarding the proposed zones; https://noosacouncil.wixsite.com/interactivemaps/new-noosa-plan
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