Airbnb fires back at Queenstown Lakes over controversial regulations

Queenstown Lakes District Council unanimously voted to proceed with public notification of revised rules for Residential Visitor Accommodation.

Mayor Jim Boult (pictured) said the change in approach is not intended to remove existing visitor accommodation from the district, but aimed at increasing the available housing stock for longer-term rentals.

“We believe the proposals reflect the desires of a significant portion of our community who don’t want to see their neighbourhood becoming a commercial accommodation operation.  We are not against AirBNB or other visitor accommodation booking sites and acknowledge they play an important role in providing short term beds for people visiting the district.  But we need to ensure our own people are housed and that short term accommodation is available in the most appropriate locations,” Mayor Boult said.

 

The proposed changes would benefit those who wish to supplement their income by hosting guests in their home, known as a ‘homestay’.

“What we’re proposing for homestays means that if you’ve got a spare room or self-contained flat and you’d like to rent it out, you can continue to do so as often as you like, as long as you’re there and there are fewer than five guests,” Mayor Boult said.

“We are regularly hearing that people feel uncomfortable with their suburbs housing more and more short term guests.  They are effectively living next to a hotel and are concerned that their  residential areas are turning into de-facto commercial zones.”

 

New rules are also proposed for those wishing to rent their entire property for visitor accommodation. The proposed rules allow up to 28 days short-term rental a year with no more than three separate lets.

But absentee owners, anyone who purchases a property with the primary intention of renting it as visitor accommodation, or those who wish to rent a property out more often than three times a year and 28 days, will need a resource consent.  Under this scenario, properties within the high density zone or visitor accommodation sub zone, will be able to apply for a restricted discretionary resource consent and continue operation.  However, if the property is in the low, medium, Arrowtown residential historic or large lot residential zones, a consent is unlikely to be granted.

Arrowtown Parade

In a statement to the New Zealand Herald, Brent Thomas, head of public policy for Airbnb in Australia and New Zealand said the new regulations will limit an important source of extra income for property owners and accused the council of employing a short-sighted policy which will have profound consequences on the local economy.

“Airbnb strongly believes everyone should have their right to respectfully share their own home if they wish. Nanny-state policies, like caps or bans, would rob people of their property rights, hurt the tourism economy and cost local jobs. The council needs to ask itself—does it really want to win the prize for being the least innovative council.”

The proposed rules will be formally notified on 23 November.

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