• PBCAI

Short Term Accommodation. PBCA's submission. (May, 2021)

Updated: May 30




I am writing on behalf of Peregian Beach Community Association (PBCA) and members from Peregian Beach and Marcus Beach. The impact of visitors in our vicinity is an everyday reality and many members have had cause to complain about the behaviour of visitors in short-term letting accommodation (STA). We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on the draft Local Law.

We commend Noosa Shire Council for taking back responsibility for introducing a local law to manage the issues associated with the very rapid increase in short-term letting accommodation now that the State Government is not proceeding with a state-wide law.


1. PBCA considers that the proposed local law should be guided by principles including:


a. The Council should put the interests of residents and their amenity ahead of the interests of visitors and interstate holiday property owners – particularly where these interests clash. Noosa should be a special place to live – not just to visit.


b. When Council proceeds with the introduction of this local law, it needs to enforce it and/or to ensure that the law will be enforced.


c. There is a desperate shortage of low and even medium cost rental accommodation across the shire which is an unacceptable state of affairs and short-term letting, with the assistance of websites such as AirBnb, is a significant contributing factor in reducing availability and pushing up rental price.


d. The policy that underpins the local law should be articulated and the research that underpins the policy should be referenced.


e. The proposed application and annual renewal fees for approval to proceed to run short-term letting and Home-Hosted Accommodation should cover the costs of Council administering and enforcing the scheme.


f. The relevant priority recommendations from the Coastal Hazards Adaptation Plan should be reflected in the Code of Conduct for properties in the affected areas.


g. The local law has to be fair to all parties.



h. The law recognises the benefits of a sense of “community” for all age groups, and accepts that the explosion of STA results in many houses and units in residential areas being vacant other than in peak holiday periods. This does not engender any sense of “community” or “neighbourhood” and we know the consequences of this, particularly for our older residents and young children.


i. The law requires that visitors have a responsibility to care for or at the very least not damage the area they have chosen to visit.


PBCA supports the changes made to Noosa Plan 2020 to define areas where STA is appropriate .and fully endorse the decision to categorise new STA in the low-density residential zone as an inconsistent use, and applications in medium and high-density residential zone as impact assessable.

We support

i. the requirements for approval and annual renewal. We note that the initial application process is very similar to the earlier version of this local law. The change simplifies the process for the annual renewal.

ii. increased flexibility for Council in determining whether to cancel an approval - rather than a fixed number of events over two years Council staff will consider their history of managing STA;

iii. not allowing STA to supplement the number of guests at the property by caravans, camper trailers or tents.


We have issues with the following:

2. Home-hosted accommodation – one or two bedrooms: The short-term letting of a bedroom or two provides relatively inexpensive accommodation for a particular segment of the tourism market. The Noosa 2020 Plan classifies this as a home business, limits the stay to 14 days and has a range of other requirements the owner must meet. Prior to the Noosa Plan 2020 home-hosted accommodation required planning approval at a cost around $3000.


With the introduction of on-line booking platforms such as Airbnb more homes that had been available for long-term letting were converted to short-term letting – contributing to the rental accommodation shortage and to high rental prices. It is unclear the extent to which home-hosted accommodation made available for short-term stays were previously available for longer term rental.


The value home-hosted short-term accommodation adds to the quantity and diversity of tourist accommodation needs to be weighed against any negative impact on the housing rental market and the impact on residential amenity.


It seems likely that this arrangement does not have as much impact on residential amenity as does short-term letting as the host is present on site. However, Council staff advised there had been complaints from residents[1].


The Agenda Paper[2] does not provide much detail on the decision to include home-hosted accommodation.


Recommendation 2 - Home-Hosted Accommodation


If the research shows that there is little impact on affordable rental accommodation and very little impact on the amenity of residents, and as they are already regulated through the Noosa Plan 2020 it would seem unnecessary to include them in the local law. However, aspects of the local law, for example the Code of Conduct requirements, could be included in the requirements for home-hosted accommodation in Noosa Plan 2020.

3. Use of facilities: the current version indicates that the use of facilities such as pools and balconies must not disturb the amenity of neighbouring properties. The earlier version specified the hours certain facilities, such as pools and balconies, could not be used – as the noise and light would potentially affect the amenity of neighbours. The change was made in response to advice that use of facilities is one of a number of “planning scheme matters the local law cannot regulate”[3] It seems odd that the Noosa Plan can specify hours when a pool can be used but the local law cannot reflect that provision.


Recommendation 3 – Use of facilities


We suggest that the Code of Conduct reference the hours of use of a swimming pool as outlined in the Noosa Plan. For example:

“The Noosa Plan 2020 sets the following limits on the hours of use of an outdoor pool:

“the pool is not used between 9pm and 6.30am the following morning”. You are expected to respect this requirement”


4. Occupancy: Similarly, the new draft local law no longer specifies the maximum number of guests per room and the maximum number of guests in total for that accommodation. This has been removed for the same reason as above (use of facilities).


The issue for our members is that a large number of people make a lot of noise. We commented on the first draft Local Law that even the proposed limit of 12 guests was too many. The inability to impose a limit on the number of guests in an STA risks the continuation of large houses and units becoming party houses with the consequent noise and behaviour impacting local residents. We are aware that the proposed application process requires a statutory declaration that the STA will not be used as a party house – however, this could be supplemented by a requirement for large premises to give more thought to how they would ensure that their accommodation is not used as a party house.


We note the approval process requires the applicant to advise the number of rooms and the number of guests per room which means the maximum number of people to occupy the premises can be estimated.



Recommendation 4 a – Occupancy – maximum guests

PBCA urges Council to amend the Noosa Plan 2020 to limit the number of guests to 2 people per bedroom, with an overall limit of 8 guests. (See the following issue for additional limits on the maximum number of guests on the basis of the number of car parking spaces on the property)


Recommendation 4 b – Occupancy-more than 3 bedrooms


Where the application is for accommodation that includes more than 3 bedrooms the Application process should require the applicant to provide a statement outlining how they will ensure that the accommodation is not used as a party house.



5. Car Parking: The earlier version of the Local Law required all visitor cars to be parked on site, meaning that guests could not legally park outside the property boundary. The revised Local Law proposes requiring visitors to utilise the car parking available within the site and does not make it illegal to park in the street. This is disappointing. However, the consequence of the change is that one major and significant impact on residents is not well addressed. It could also provide an incentive for STA to minimise the parking inside the property boundary in order to maximise the space available for guest accommodation.


Recommendation 5 – Car Parking


Council should amend the Noosa Plan 2020 to include a requirement that sufficient parking is provided so that only one extra vehicle uses street parking e.g., a 3 bedroom dwelling would require at least 2 car parking spaces to be available within the property boundary and the maximum number of guests is limited accordingly and, overall, to 8 guests. If this is not feasible Council should consider other options to require STA to provide a reasonable number of car parking spaces.


6. Exemptions introduced for visitor only sites and precincts identified in Noosa Plan 2020 such as motels, hotels and backpackers – include 215 David Low Way, Peregian Beach.

This property has approval for a motel, a manager’s residence and 19 individual dwellings. The dwellings are visitor only accommodation with a restriction that occupants are limited to a maximum of 90 days per year.

It is unclear why the Council has proposed to exempt the dwellings from the requirements to comply with the local law. The limits on occupancy match those specified in the draft local law yet the visitors residing in the dwellings are not required to abide by the Visitor Code of Conduct. The lot abuts or is close to residential property so residents would be affected for example if noise exceeded the acceptable level.

The exemption also means no Contact Person is required. The developer proposes to have an on-site manager – who is responsible for the motel and, in our view should take on the responsibilities of a Contact Person for the dwellings.

The settlement of the arrangements for development on this site have been volatile and whilst there has been a mediated outcome on the number of dwellings and the order of development, requiring the motel to be built first, the developer has a history of seeking different arrangements from those approved or agreed.

Recommendation 6 - Exemptions

Given:

- there is some uncertainty about the final nature of development on this property and

- 19 dwellings with limited occupancy rights are approved

- the rights of the residents on site and neighbours should be the same as other residents, and

- visitors should have the same obligations as other visitors in short-term accommodation

we recommend that Lot 1 215 David Low Way be removed from the list of exemptions until such time as the development is finished, any conditions attached to occupancy are finalised and clear and a decision can be made about whether exemption is appropriate.


7. Costs to Council The implementation of the Local Law will require additional resourcing. The agenda paper includes the following: “the implementation of the local law will require additional staff resourcing (including vehicles). This resourcing requirement will need to be funded for the 2021/22 year on an ongoing basis. Funding options, which may include fees and charge, general rates or levies, will need to be assessed through Council’s budget process for the 2021/2022 financial year”[4].

Recommendation 7: Costs

We are strongly of the view that the system of managing STA needs to be self-funded. That is, the application fee and annual renewal fee should be sufficient to fund the implementation, including enforcement, of the Local Law.


We understand that there may be a period where Council is required to subsidise the implementation but as more STA seek approval and the annual renewal fee continues it should not take too long for income to match expenditure and Council’s subsidy “repaid”.

STA providers are earning substantial income from letting. An annual fee is simply a cost of earning that income. The broader community should not be asked to subsidise their enterprise.


8. Compliance: A major issue for residents is that noise from loud music, loud voices etc occurs after hours. The draft local law requires the Contact Person to arrive within 20 minutes and they then have 30 minutes to resolve the issue. Where a satisfactory resolution is not achieved, they can continue to contact the Contact Person until the issue is resolved but if that is not working calling the police may the only option left to the resident neighbour. Feedback from members suggests that the police are busy with more serious issues and are unable to attend. Naturally when a similar event occurs regularly residents become frustrated and angry.


There is a lack of clarity on the respective responsibilities of the owner and the Contact Person. Section 4 of the Plain English version of the Local Law states “in all circumstances the approval will be issued to the owner”, Section 5 and 6 state “conditions must be complied with at all times and it is the responsibility of the approval holder (i.e., the owner) OR (my emphasis) the Contact Person to ensure the conditions are complied with” and includes a section “Conditions for short stay letting – Contact Person requirements”.


Recommendation 8a: Compliance

The Contact Person must have the authority to evict visitors who do not and are not willing to comply with the Visitor Code of Conduct and this requirement must be included in the Application and confirmed annually and when the person fulfilling the role changes. The Code of Conduct needs to advise visitors that eviction is possible if they do not comply with the Code and follow any instructions issued by the Contact Person.

Recommendation 8b: Compliance –Responsibilities

The respective responsibilities of the owner of the premises and the Contact Person need to be made much clearer. In particular it should be made clear that Owners become the “Approval holders” when an application for STA is approved and they are responsible for the actions of the Contact Person. Further, any contraventions of the Local Law, including those resulting from the Contact Person’s management of the STA will be taken into account in the approval and renewal processes.


9. Suitability of a dwelling for short-term letting: The draft Local Law requires the applicant to have appropriate insurance, ensure pool and electrical safety, provide an entrance and exit that doesn’t disturb neighbours, provide Council with a floor plan and the number of rooms available and a statutory declaration that the house will not be used as a “party house.”.

However, from a neighbouring resident’s viewpoint these are important but not sufficient. A major problem is the location on site of swimming pools, lighting and balconies and their positioning relative to the neighbouring properties.

The assessment criteria include “the operation will not negatively affect surrounding residential amenity, including but not limited to noise, overlooking and light spill”[5]. There is no advice about how this criterion will be assessed. Nor is it clear, if indeed intended, to require applicants

Ø to provide evidence of how they are sited with respect to neighbours e.g., photographs from above are required or whether Council mapping (available from Noosa Council website) shows the property and surrounds in sufficient detail

Ø to make changes to their properties to meet the requirements e.g., screening, noise absorbing materials etc, and requiring these changes to be made prior to approval.

The documents provided do not indicate whether owners claiming existing rights will be assessed differently in relation to this criterion than new applicants.


Recommendation 9 – Suitability of a dwelling.

Council should provide further information on how the criterion “the operation will not negatively affect surrounding residential amenity, including but not limited to noise, overlooking and light spill” will be assessed and the options available to Council to impose conditions on the applicant to ensure the impacts on neighbours are minimised and whether these matters will be managed differently for owners claiming existing rights.


10. CHAP priorities included in Code of Conduct. The priority for Peregian Beach and Marcus Beach identified in the Coastal Hazard Adaptation Plan (CHAP) is to “revegetate and replenish the dunes”. This priority, in addition to weeding and revegetating, requires:

a. Education of beach users on the role and importance of the dunes

b. Barriers to deter residents and visitors from walking around/sliding down the dunes and to encourage them to use the formal Beach Access points and to use the beach access with the appropriate dog exercise status

c. The advertising of “private” beach paths to cease and their use discouraged.

Recommendation 10 – CHAP priorities included in Code of Conduct

The Local Law should require the owner to:

Ø Provide and include in the Code of Conduct information about the nearest Beach Access, the dog exercise status at that access, the nearest access with the alternate dog exercise options and the fines for non-compliance,

Ø Cease advertising “private beach access paths” on their property listing(s)/STA listings

Ø Provide to each new tenancy a brochure on the role and importance of the dunal structures. The brochure to be produced by Council (the very popular Marcus Beach Bushcare Association brochure is a good example) and provided to STA owners to distribute.


11. Eco-friendly dog waste bags:

Whilst the issue of dog waste has not been raised in any of Council’s documentation about the impact of visitors on residential amenity it is an issue of concern. One member reported that she had recently picked up seven lots of dog waste over 2 days between Beach Access 60 and 63. If the Local Law required STAs advertising themselves as “pet friendly” to maintain a supply of Council’s dog waste bags that would, we anticipate, reduce the dog waste left near and on beach access paths and the roads leading to them.

Council could also investigate whether the eco-friendly bags Council supplies could carry useful messages about dog exercise status. Messages such as the current fines, where to find the website to check dog exercise status in the Noosa Shire and general messaging such as when dogs need to be leashed could be included.

Recommendation 11a - Eco-Friendly dog waste bags


The proposed Local Law should require STAs advertising themselves as “pet friendly” to maintain a supply of Council’s eco-friendly dog waste bags and this supply is not to be taken from the supply at any beach access point.


Recommendation 11b – Messaging on Council’s dog waste bags


Council should investigate whether the eco-friendly dog waste bags Council supplies could carry useful messages in relation to the dog exercise arrangements in the Noosa Shire.


12. Who can complain: Provision is made for residents experiencing impacts from a STA property to complain to the Contact Person who is responsible for resolving the issue/s to the standard outlined in the Code of Conduct.

The information provided on the Council website, Fact Sheet 3, Complaints Process Flowchart and FAQ make it clear that Council will only deal with complaints where the complainant has made the complaint to the Contact Person and is not satisfied with the outcome.

In a neighbourhood one resident may ring the Contact Officer, acting on behalf of a number of residents affected by an STA property. If the issue is not well managed the resident who rang the Contact Officer can complain to the Council. However, it appears the other affected residents cannot do so.


There is also provision for complaints to Council for contraventions against the local law. Complaints of this nature may not be appropriate to make to the Contact Person as complaints to be resolved by the Contact Person relate to the standards of the Code of Conduct for Guests.


Neighbours or local residents, or their representatives, should be able to complain to Council if they suspect or know a contravention against the Local Law is occurring. Of course, the complainant must provide information and evidence to support their complaint.


Recommendation 12 - Who can complain to Council

The Complaints to Council Procedure should allow complaints to be made directly to Council where their complaint relates to contraventions to the Local Law that are outside the scope of responsibility of the Contact Person.

Attached are the experiences of two of our residents with STA neighbours for your information. Attached with their permission but not for public release.


Thank you again for the opportunity to provide feedback. We look forward to seeing the final version.


Yours sincerely


Marian Kroon

President





Attachment 1: PBCA Recommendations

Attachment 2: Resident experience with STA neighbours

ATTACHMENT 1 PBCA RECOMMENDATIONS


Recommendation 1: Principles

PBCA considers that the proposed local law should be guided by principles including those outlined in our submission.


Recommendation 2 - Home-Hosted Accommodation


If the research shows that there is little impact on affordable rental accommodation and very little impact on the amenity of residents, and as they are already regulated through the Noosa Plan 2020 it would seem unnecessary to include them in the local law. However, aspects of the local law, for example the Code of Conduct requirements, could be included in the requirements for home-hosted accommodation in Noosa Plan 2020.


Recommendation 3 – Use of facilities


We suggest that the Code of Conduct reference the hours of use of a swimming pool as outlined in the Noosa Plan. For example:

“The Noosa Plan 2020 sets the following limits on the hours of use of an outdoor pool:

“the pool is not used between 9pm and 6.30am the following morning”. You are expected to respect this requirement”


Recommendation 4 a – Occupancy – maximum guests

PBCA urges Council to amend the Noosa Plan 2020 to limit the number of guests to 2 people per bedroom, with an overall limit of 8 guests. (See the following issue for additional limits on the maximum number of guests on the basis of the number of car parking spaces on the property).


Recommendation 4 b – Occupancy-more than 3 bedrooms


Where the application is for accommodation that includes more than 3 bedrooms the Application process should require the applicant to provide a statement outlining how they will ensure that the accommodation is not used as a party house.

Recommendation 5 – Car Parking


Council should amend the Noosa Plan 2020 to include a requirement that sufficient parking is provided so that only one extra vehicle uses street parking e.g., a 3 bedroom dwelling would require at least 2 car parking spaces to be available within the property boundary and the maximum number of guests is limited accordingly and, overall, to 8 guests. If this is not feasible Council should consider other options to require STA to provide a reasonable number of car parking spaces.


Recommendation 6 - Exemptions

Given:

- there is some uncertainty about the final nature of development on this property and

- 19 dwellings with limited occupancy rights are approved

- the rights of the residents on site and neighbours should be the same as other residents, and

- visitors should have the same obligations as other visitors in short-term accommodation

we recommend that Lot 1 215 David Low Way be removed from the list of exemptions until such time as the development is finished, any conditions attached to occupancy are finalised and clear and a decision can be made about whether exemption is appropriate.


Recommendation 7: Costs

We are strongly of the view that the system of managing STA needs to be self-funded. That is, the application fee and annual renewal fee should be sufficient to fund the implementation, including enforcement, of the Local Law.


Recommendation 8a: Compliance

The Contact Person must have the authority to evict visitors who do not and are not willing to comply with the Visitor Code of Conduct and this requirement must be included in the Application and confirmed annually and when the person fulfilling the role changes. The Code of Conduct needs to advise visitors that eviction is possible if they do not comply with the Code and follow any instructions issued by the Contact Person.


Recommendation 8b: Compliance –Responsibilities

The respective responsibilities of the owner of the premises and the Contact Person need to be made much clearer. In particular it should be made clear that Owners become the “Approval holders” when an application for STA is approved and they are responsible for the actions of the Contact Person. Further, any contraventions of the Local Law, including those resulting from the Contact Person’s management of the STA will be taken into account in the approval and renewal processes.




Recommendation 9 – Suitability of a dwelling.

Council should provide further information on how the criterion “the operation will not negatively affect surrounding residential amenity, including but not limited to noise, overlooking and light spill” will be assessed and the options available to Council to impose conditions on the applicant to ensure the impacts on neighbours are minimised and whether these matters will be managed differently for owners claiming existing rights.


Recommendation 10 – CHAP priorities included in Code of Conduct

The Local Law should require the owner to:

Ø Provide and include in the Code of Conduct information about the nearest Beach Access, the dog exercise status at that access, the nearest access with the alternate dog exercise options and the fines for non-compliance,

Ø Cease advertising “private beach access paths” on their property listing(s)/STA listings

Ø Provide to each new tenancy a brochure on the role and importance of the dunal structures. The brochure to be produced by Council (the very popular Marcus Beach Bushcare Association brochure is a good example) and provided to STA owners to distribute.


Recommendation 11a - Eco-Friendly dog waste bags


The proposed Local Law should require STAs advertising themselves as “pet friendly” to maintain a supply of Council’s eco-friendly dog waste bags and this supply is not to be taken from the supply at any beach access point.


Recommendation 11b – Messaging on Council’s dog waste bags


Council should investigate whether the eco-friendly dog waste bags Council supplies could carry useful messages in relation to the dog exercise arrangements in the Noosa Shire.


Recommendation 12 - Who can complain to Council

The Complaints to Council Procedure should allow complaints to be made directly to Council where their complaint relates to contraventions to the Local Law that are outside the scope of responsibility of the Contact Person.


[1] Planning and Environment Committee Meeting Agenda 9 March 2021, Attachment 6 [2] Planning and Environment Committee Meeting Agenda 9 March 2021 [3] P82, Planning and Environment Committee Meeting Agenda 9 March 2021 [4] P91, Planning and Environment Committee Meeting Agenda 9 March 2021 [5] Noosa Council: Proposed local Law Amendments 2021…..Plain English Version; p5

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