Unregistered short-term rentals targeted

Property owners who have not registered their short-term holiday accommodation can expect a follow-up from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and a possible fine.

In January, the council sent  letters to nearly 800 unregistered properties it had identified as being used for short-term and holiday rentals. About 300 have still not registered.

Property owners have had since 2014 to register their properties.

About 34% of the properties owners initially identified by the council in January have signed declarations  they are not advertising holiday accommodation. Depending on the situation and how many nights paying guests stayed, some properties could have an extra 25% added to their rates.

In an email, a QLDC spokesman said it was disappointing 300 property owners had chosen not to register despite being contacted by the council. Those owners could expect to be contacted by the council again and face a possible fine of up to $300,000 if they continue to be unregistered.

There had been no contact between the council and companies which advertised the holiday homes.

Most of the larger companies did not provide details about people using their websites, the council spokesman said.

Yesterday, more than 1000 short-term holiday rentals in the Queenstown Lakes district  were advertised online, by companies such as Airbnb and Bookabach. There had been no requests received by the council to share the information on the holiday rentals from government departments such as Inland Revenue (IRD).

If a request was made, the council would share that information.

The council would continue to monitor the situation and contact any property owners still providing short-term holiday accommodation while unregistered.

In January, QLDC chief financial officer Stuart Burns told the Otago Daily Times there were good reasons short-term holiday properties needed to be registered, including the health and safety of the visitors who stay in them. It was not just a revenue-gathering exercise.

None of the holiday accommodation providers who spoke to the Otago Daily Times wanted their identities revealed as they worried they could be targeted by the council.In many cases, those who were registered with the council had not declared their business to the IRD.

One property owner who received the letter but did not live in the district, said he would not be registering because he already paid rates on his property which was empty for more than half the year.


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