Visitor rental proposals may be relaxed

The rules would have the most effect on absentee owners wanting to let their property for short...
The rules would have the most effect on absentee owners wanting to let their property for short-term rentals. Photo: ODT files
The Queenstown Lakes District Council is to consider relaxing proposed changes to visitor accommodation rules after receiving significant feedback on the subject last summer, but some people are still not happy.

Notified last November, the new rules sought to reduce the number of short-term rental days per year from 90 to 28, with no more than three separate lets.

It was hoped the change would create more long-term rentals in the district.

It would have the most effect on absentee owners wanting to let their property for short-term rentals.

The new rules would not apply retrospectively to homeowners already short-term letting their homes, but to those who would wish to do so in the future.

Submitters made more than 5000 comments on different points of the proposal. A hearing will be held next month.

QLDC senior policy planner Amy Bowbyes has recommended the hearings panel on the matter raise the limit on the number of days per year to 42 and remove the rule of no more than three separate lettings per year.

Anyone wanting to rent their property for more than 42 days a year would need a resource consent to do so.

In a report to the panel she said she believed raising the number of days would provide ''additional flexibility'', while still allowing the activity of visitor accommodation to be managed.

''The changes are more effective and efficient than the equivalent provisions within the notified provisions and the Operative District Plan,'' she said.

Trade Me property's head of rentals Aaron Clancy welcomed the changes and said he was ''really pleased'' to see the council listening to the submitters.

''The changes to the restrictions the council proposed are a great step in the right direction. As we said in our submission, we think 90 days a year is a better alternative, but we're happy that a number of the proposed restrictions such as the number of lets and minimum nights stayed have been taken off the table.''

But not everyone was satisfied with the changes.

Airbnb has opposed the proposal in its entirety and has sought the deletion of the proposed provisions.

In evidence that will be considered by the hearings panel, which was posted on the council's website this week, Airbnb's head of policy for Australia and New Zealand Brent Thomas said the provisions significantly impacted the ability for Airbnb hosts in the district to operate.

He also questioned whether it would actually solve the problem of long-term rental shortage.

''Applying for resource consent is a time-consuming and expensive exercise, requiring the engagement of professional assistance.

''Airbnb does not consider the proposed provisions are required, particularly when there is no clear evidence that the provisions are required to control the environmental effects of residential visitor accommodation or that the provisions will actually have the outcome that the council seeks in terms of housing availability for long-term occupation.''

Wanaka holiday homeowner Anne Dowden also had her doubts.

''I see it as a conciliatory decision that will make no difference to the long-term rental accommodation problem and nuisance factor of lots of one-night visits and overcrowding that they aim to fix.''

sean.nugent@odt.co.nz

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