Rental rating plan a work in progress

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
An extra rate charge is likely to affect some of Dunedin's short-term accommodation providers from next year, but exactly how it will work still needs some tweaking.

Options for creating a new rating charge for residential properties being used for short-term visitor accommodation were presented to councillors at a full meeting of the Dunedin City Council yesterday.

After nearly an hour of debate about the exact details of who would be targeted by the new rating method and how it would be enforced, councillors voted to support a new rating method which would be applied from July 2020.

The details of any new method will be included in the council's 2020-21 annual plan and staff will investigate a targeted rate as an alternative to the proposed differentiated general rate.

The new rate will be charged to properties where the owners were not living in the dwelling or where a separately used or inhabited part was being hired out for short-term accommodation.

There would be a comprehensive consultation with the community on any rating charge before it was enacted.

Staff presented councillors with options to create a new rating category which would target properties used entirely for short-term rentals and are booked for a certain number of nights a year.

Only properties which were entirely rented out or where there were separately used or inhabited parts were to be included in the category.

Councillors queried staff about how any new rating category would be enforced and who would be included or excluded.

They were worried a rate could possibly affect property owners who rented out a room from time to time and were not making large amounts of money from it.

Before a vote on the options presented by staff could be voted on, Mayor Dave Cull put forward an alternative motion which supported a new rating method but would give staff time to investigate how a targeted rate might work.

Mr Cull said the issue was complicated and there was no perfect solution, but by tweaking the rating system slightly the council at least could find one solution.

BookaBatch general manager Peter Miles said if the proposal was adopted, it would unfairly target only one segment of the short-term rental market.

Only empty properties were rented out through BookaBatch, which has more than 100 listings in Dunedin, and the council was investigating an ill-fitting and unfair rating regime, Mr Miles said.

The company supported efforts to find a reasonable balance between regulation and addressing the economic impact of short-term rentals on local facilities and services, but it must be done in a fair and consistent manner, he said.

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