Bookabach welcomes the release of the final proposed changes to the District Plan from the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC). However, we are disappointed in the visitor accommodation provisions that seek to apply even tighter regulation of short-term holiday rental in stand-alone homes.
The controls proposed under Plan Change 23, Visitor Accommodation and Residential Amenity, are wide-sweeping and over-simplify the situation. They mean less choice for domestic and inbound traveller to Queenstown-Lakes and will impinge on a bach owners right to earn an income from their properties when they are not in use. Specifically, Bookabach has concerns about the following parts of the proposed local law:
- The proposal unfairly discriminates against stand-alone homes and will make it harder for owners of baches and holiday homes (predominantly in low/medium density residential and rural zones) to list their property on a short-term rental platform like Bookabach. This will reduce the choice and availability and drive up costs for family and group travel to the area.
- Council are assuming that if a homeowner is only able to rent out 28 days per year then this will push the property into permanent rental. This might be the case on pure investment properties but not with baches and holiday homes where owners want to use them themselves at least once or twice a year. If anything council should be encouraging more use of these properties as visitor accommodation rather than seeing them go empty most of the time.
- Short term holiday rentals (STHR) is being blamed for the lack of affordable housing in the QLDC region. The Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust 2016 Renters’ Survey shows the average income of renters in the region has gone down since 2012, while house prices have doubled. These proposed changes will not address Queenstown’s affordable housing crisis. Council need to address some broader economic and town planning issues to solve this problem.
- QLDC also point to the cumulative adverse effects of allowing more and more short-term rental and the impact this has on the “settled character” of residential neighbourhoods. The proposed changes restrict whole-home rental, but open up hosted accommodation in most residential zones. So, these neighbourhoods will maintain a fair share of out-of-town visitors. They are more likely to be singles and couples rather than families or groups.
- The assumption is that all tourists should stay in high-density housing in Downtown Queenstown. But, that doesn’t cater for families looking for three plus bedrooms and space for the kids to run around. It also limits the diversity of visitor experience Queenstown has to offer.
- Conversely, younger, child-free locals seeking permanent rental will more likely be pushed out of downtown areas under this plan as apartments and townhouses go to STR.
- Lastly, we see these changes raising the costs of compliance for bach owners, either in proving “existing use rights” under the RMA - or in seeking resource consent. QLDC will face the challenge and cost of monitoring and enforcing the limits - and travellers ultimately pay the price.
Our concern is that other councils will copy QLDC’s approach, and roll-out similarly blunt and damaging approaches around the country. Queenstown-Lakes, as the leading tourism destination in the country, have both an opportunity and responsibility to get any controls around short-term rental right. Bookabach welcomes the opportunity to work with council to ensure proposed changes do not unfairly restrict short-term rental accommodation options in the Queenstown-Lakes areas.
MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday 23rd November 2017
Eacham Curry, Head of Government Relations, Bookabach