Council intervention urged to ease housing crisis

Andrew Kingsley from Rainbow Beach Fruit is hopeful of finding a home for his family - and says something must be done about the housing on the Cooloola Coast

Andrew Kingsley from Rainbow Beach Fruit is hopeful of finding a home for his family – and says something must be done about the housing on the Cooloola Coast

Housing was discussed at last month’s Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism (RBCT) meeting, with more questions raised than answers.

There are no permanent rental properties available. Businesses can’t fill job positions, because there is nowhere for new employees to live. Now, even employers are struggling to find a home.

It was of great concern that RBCT Treasurer, Andrew Kingsley, had until May 12 to find rental accommodation.

Andrew, owner of Rainbow Beach Fruit, said, “We’re stressed, we’ve got four kids, and it’s the unknown. We can’t find anywhere to live – it is difficult. I’ve got to keep the business.”

If Andrew and wife Annie have no alternative but to move to Gympie, pickings are slim. “Out of seven real estate agents, there were two houses for us. With 15 people applying for one. We have to wait and see.”

He said real estate agents in Rainbow Beach only have small units, which is not ideal for four teenagers!

“They’re doing everything they can, trying to get holiday lets into permanent rentals. You understand why homeowners are holiday renting, you make better money out of it,” said Andrew.

The RBCT executive have been in discussion with the Chamber of Commerce Institute of Queensland regarding private AirBnB accommodation, and urge council to adopt initiatives from Noosa and Byron Bay.

The town cannot house enough workers to service tourists. Families are leaving town because there is no accommodation – school numbers have decreased.  Lack of housing is eroding our community. The situation is unsustainable.

After the Queensland government deferred its plans for a state-wide framework to manage short-stay letting, Noosa Council has proposed a new local law. It opened for comment April 9, with submissions by May 14, and includes:

  • Code of conduct for guest behaviour e.g. noise, light spill, vehicle storage, pets, waste, etc.
  • Minimum safety standards for guests
  • Regulate ongoing operation of short stay letting and home hosted accommodation
  • One-off application and annual renewal for a premises
  • Exemptions for visitor only areas: hotels, motels, backpacker accommodation, etc. and
  • Local contact person to manage a short stay let premises, inform guests of the code of conduct, be available 24/7, be located within 20 minutes travel, respond to complaints within 30 minutes and keep a register of complaints.

Last month, NSW Government announced a policy with new definitions of accommodation, and provisions like fire safety standards for dwellings, penalties and tracking the day limits. This will take effect November 1, 2021.

They acknowledge that Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) is often facilitated through online booking platforms such as Stayz, Airbnb and

RBCT members discussed a critical point: if holiday home owners swap management from online platforms to real estate agents, there will still be a housing shortage.

In fact, even if new land is available, like the Golf Course development, how do we know any of it will be available for permanent rent?

In 2011, Byron Shire in NSW gave incentives to encourage more housing; and worked with the community to ensure housing is provided to permanent residents.

Council decided to exempt certain secondary dwellings from development contributions. However, the exemption was only for dwellings which provided a home for permanent residents and consents were conditioned to restrict tourist and visitor accommodation.

They recognised that in addition to complaints about holiday letting, an important impact is housing affordability and stock, because houses are purchased for holiday letting alone, decreasing rental availability.

Byron Shire also restricts ‘tourist and visitor accommodation’ to certain zones, and has prohibited it in residential areas.

More recently, Byron Council resolved to enforce action on owners who use their property for tourism purposes, acting outside their development consent.

In the Gympie Region, Council cannot control housing prices, but perhaps some of the learnings and policies from other holiday hot spots like Noosa and Byron Bay could assist locals.

Andrew agrees, “I’d like to see Council put a cap on AirBnB and holiday rentals. I don’t know if it would help – but the only solution is through the government or council.”

Some strategies for holiday letting

  • Applications and annual reviews
  • Local contact person to manage
  • Fire and safety standards
  • Guest code of conduct
  • Development incentives
  • No holiday letting in residential zones

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