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Fed-up residents of popular tourist town demand limit on Airbnbs

Annoyed Byron Bay residents are urging their council to limit the number of days Airbnb homes can be rented to the thousands of tourists that flock to the NSW beach community every year.

The Byron Shire Council has proposed non-hosted, short-term rental homes in some of the town’s busiest areas should be available for rent every day of the year, with the remaining areas open to visitors for just 90 days annually.

Wategos, a beachside suburb by the popular Cape Byron Lighthouse, Belongil which sits to the left of the main beach, and Shirely Street, which is home to numerous hostels, are all being considered for 365 day rentals.

Byron Bay's Main beach in New South Wales. Source: Getty
Byron Bay's Main beach in northern NSW. Source: Getty

If approved, the planning proposal will be submitted to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment at a later date.

Angry locals have slammed the suggested change, claiming the ever-growing number of AirBnB properties in the area are loud and make them feel unsafe.

Approximately 40 per cent of dwellings in Byron Bay and 18 per cent of homes within Byron Shire are listed on AirBnb, according to the council’s website.

A post in the Byron Bay Residents’ Facebook group has urged residents to submit their responses by the end of Thursday.

“Take action or lose our community!” it reads.

A woman living in the area also took to the Byron Bay Community Board Facebook group to put pressure on locals to speak up.

“Sick of the AirBnB noise next door? Don’t feel safe in your own neighbourhood? Can’t afford to live in the area you were born and raised? Fed up of complaining to Police (who are busy enough already), the Council, the Holiday Letting Agency, the Noise Hotlines etc with no results?” she wrote.

A flyer seen on social media regarding the increase in rental homes in Byron Bay. Source: Facebook
A flyer seen on social media regarding the increase in rental homes in Byron Bay. Source: Facebook

“Angry that city investors get to negatively gear their holiday houses, and effectively run a business but don’t pay business rates or levies? In short, are you sick to death of subsidising someone else’s holiday at Wategos, whilst you blow your tyres on your potholed road and can’t find a park in town even with your $50 residents sticker?”

“Well now is your LAST CHANCE,” she said.

Social media users were quick to share their own frustrations.

“I live between holiday apartments and a motel, it gets very loud and scary with people partying and fighting in the lane,” a woman wrote.

A sign slamming short-term rentals in front of a home. Source: Facebook
Angry locals have slammed the proposed change, claiming tourists are forcing them out of their homes. Source: Facebook

A second woman said the trend “is insidiously diabolical.”

“It's not just the rising costs of rentals but the lack of availability for locals due to holiday letting in residential areas,” another person chimed in.

A photo found on social media shows what appears to be a flyer with an image similar to the AirBnB logo and the headline “who pays for your holiday?”

“When you book an apartment, think about the rising rent prices for locals, an increase in touristification and people going through social displacement. For each holiday apartment a local has to leave their home.”

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