Airbnb owners located in an Australian tourist hotspot are worried they might be forced to rip out a second kitchen due to new bylaws.
Located on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Noosa is a popular tourist destination, for both international and domestic travellers.
Rob Neely, president of the Noosa Hinterland Residents Association and Airbnb host explained how new rules from Noosa Council will prohibit short term rentals from having additional food preparation areas within the home.
Bed and breakfasts, including Airbnbs, are considered “home-based businesses” under the new Noosa Plan.
“If you currently run a Airbnb in your home you will be asked to remove the kitchen or anywhere a guest can prepare a sandwich,” Mr Neely wrote on the Noosa Hinterland Residents Association Facebook page on Thursday.
“So that will mean, no stoves, no refrigerators, no kitchen sinks in the Airbnb.
“Technically the way it’s drafted at the moment, your guests will not be able to make breakfast, a cup of tea or cook toast.”
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Mr Neely confirmed the ‘demand letter’ he received from the council is still valid.
The letter Mr Neely received was supplied to Yahoo News Australia. It states council received a complaint about Airbnb use, and confirms bed and breakfasts are deemed ‘home-based businesses’ under the new scheme.
The letter also says Mr Neely’s property “does not comply” under the planning scheme, specifically due to the second kitchen for his Airbnb guests.
“Both the current and new planning scheme only permits one kitchen per dwelling, so to comply with the requirements of both the existing scheme and the new planning scheme you would have to remove the kitchen area to comply,” the letter says.
Mr Neely was then asked to “confirm” his “intentions in relation to the second kitchen” by November 27.
No second kitchens allowed in Noosa Airbnbs
Mr Neely bought his home in the Sunshine Coast hinterland 12 years ago, which already had a second kitchen when he bought the house.
‘The New Noosa Plan’, details criteria homeowners would need to meet, and says that guests should “not have their own facilities for preparing food or washing”, according to the plan.
“But under this new proposal they can not make food at all,” Mr Neely claimed on Facebook.
The New Noosa Plan is a draft planning scheme which will provide “blueprint to shape the shire’s growth”, according to the council’s website.
If a home does not meet the required criteria for the short term accomodation, as Mr Neely’s does not, planning approval will be required.
Noosa mayor says claims are misleading
The mayor of Noosa, Tony Wellington commented on Mr Neely’s Facebook post and claimed his post was “misleading”.
“This post is misleading. Where entire houses or flats are let - the vast majority of Airbnb type properties - of course they can have a kitchen,” Mr Wellington wrote on the Facebook post.
“The issue arises only where people let part of their own home, where it is generally a home-based business.
“We need to distinguish between someone short-stay renting out a room in their house versus short stay letting a self-contained flat.”
However, it wasn’t just Mr Neely who was disgruntled by the local councils new restrictions.
“They should be supporting the industry bringing more people to our region,” one person said in the comments of Mr Neely’s Facebook post.
Noosa Plan proposals for Airbnbs anti-competitive, resident says
Amelia Lorentson, a Noosa resident for 18 years who is running for local council in 2020, has been actively speaking out about the new laws on her Facebook page.
“I believe that the proposed Local Law and changes to the Noosa Plan are anti-competitive, anti-tourism, undemocratic and will leave Council open to legal battle,” Ms Lorentson said on Facebook on November 3.
In a separate post, Ms Lorenston said she is not an Airbnb host, but many of her neighbours are and the new laws will result in people losing the right to choose.
In another post on Friday, Mr Neely shared another post to the same Facebook group, calling for Noosa to adjust the planning laws.
“It seems to me that there are hidden agendas behind this new planning scheme, and they sound like antiquated thinking of people that are trying to stop Noosa growing,” Mr Neely said on Facebook on Friday.
According to Noosa Council, the New Noosa Plan consultation period ends on Monday 11 November, the commencement date of the new scheme is yet to be announced.
Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Noosa Council and Mayor Tony Wellington for comment.
A spokesperson from the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning said local governments are “best placed” regulate short term accomodation and the state government does not regulate Airbnbs.
“Council can establish local laws to address issues regarding AirBnBs in line with community expectations. This could include regulating the number of kitchens per dwelling or the hours that noisy activities can occur at short term accommodation properties,” the spokesperson said.
“The Queensland Government does not intend to introduce regulations in the planning framework for Airbnb and does not regulate the number of kitchens per dwelling in Queensland.”
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