Rates crack down on let holiday homes

Stewart Burns.
Stewart Burns.
The pressure is coming on those who let their Queenstown and Wanaka holiday homes for profit to pay the correct amount of rates.

Under a 2009 plan change, the Queenstown Lakes District Council required owners of such properties to register with the council and accept a rate increase of about 25%.

In a statement yesterday, council chief financial officer Stewart Burns said owners had until the end of May to register, apply for resource consent or ''cease using their property'' as a rental.

''From 1 June, 2014, the council would be actively enforcing the regulations.''

Mr Burns pointed out to the Otago Daily Times the council had the ability to impose fines for breaches of the district plan.

While 354 properties were on the register in November, Mr Burns was ''concerned'' at the ''fair number'' of property owners who appeared to be ''avoiding their responsibilities''.

''We have evidence that some ratepayers are taking in short-term paying visitors without the correct registrations or consents.

''In my experience, there's nothing more annoying for ratepayers that have complied than to see someone else in a similar position who has not.''

The council wanted to ensure that those who let their homes or holiday houses paid their fair share of rates.

It would be monitoring rental property advertisements and matching them against its register.

Mr Burns said since the plan change, there had been ''ad hoc'' action to get property owners on to the register.

As part of the current campaign, council processes had been simplified to make online registration easier.

''This is as much an education exercise as anything else - refreshing the requirement in people's minds.''

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks was one of the commissioners who presided over the original plan change 22 hearing.

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday introducing the register had been a lengthy and complex business.

Previously, the district plan had required property owners offering short-term accommodation to obtain resource consent.

The change removed that requirement for homeowners and also addressed concerns from the accommodation industry, whose members wanted all those providing visitor accommodation to contribute through their rates.

Mr Cocks said commercial accommodation providers had raised the issue with the council.

Mr Burns said the move would not provide the council with additional revenue but would make ratepayer contributions more equitable.


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