Changes could cost jobs

Proposed changes to short-term visitor accommodation rules in the Queenstown Lakes district are ''nanny-state policies'' that will hurt its tourism economy, an Airbnb boss says.

The company has come out vehemently opposing new rules that will be considered at a special meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District Council today.

The potential changes would not affect property owners who personally host up to five visitors in their homes. But absentee owners or those renting their homes while on holiday face greater restrictions.

They would be restricted to a maximum of 28 days a year, with no more than three separate lets - a big reduction on the 90 days allowed at present without a resource consent.

Airbnb head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand Brent Thomas said greater restrictions on home sharing would exacerbate the district's accommodation shortage and cut an ''economic lifeline'' for residential property owners.

''Airbnb strongly believes everyone should have their right to respectfully share their own home if they wish,'' Mr Thomas said in a media statement.

''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?''

Queenstown property owners were quick to jump on board as peer-to-peer, short-stay accommodation websites started up in New Zealand.

Travellers and workers who prefer home comforts to a hotel, motel or hostel are booking their accommodation through websites such as Airbnb, which connects hosts with renters.

Airbnb is by far the biggest player in the district with about 2000 listings, but it is only one of about 100 websites the council has been monitoring for more than two years.

Council planning and development general manager Tony Avery said the council had taken a ''holistic approach'' to a year-long review of the activity, and the proposed rules would provide a ''much clearer framework''.

Issues covered in the review included its policy, enforcement, the building code and visitor preferences.

The proposed rules, which are part of the council's district plan review, make it unlikely the owners of houses in lower-density residential areas would be granted a resource consent for letting them for more than 28 days a year.

But in town centres, higher-density residential mixed-use areas and in visitor accommodation sub-zones, property owners could exceed the 28-day, three-let limit if they received a consent.

Registered homestay providers could continue to have up to five paying guests in their home, with no limit to the number of nights a year, provided the owners are on site.

If approved by councillors at today's meeting, the proposed rules will be notified on November 23 for public consultation.

In the meantime, property owners can continue to operate and receive consents under the existing rules; any new rules will not come into effect until the council makes final decisions after hearing public submissions.


Airbnb are notorious tax dodgers. They add nothing of value, just providing a method for absent landlords to impose disruptive visitors into residential areas.
So what if Airbnb disappeared? A bunch of people who only own units to rent out might sell them to people who want to live in Queenstown. Visitors to Queenstown would stay in hotels that would actually employ people and pay taxes.
Where is the down side?

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