Opposition mounts to Kiama property register

Kiama Heights resident Bruce Wilken is angry about the number of holiday rentals cropping up and the traffic conditions that occur in the neighbourhood when they are let out. Picture: DAVE TEASENew rules governing holiday rental properties in the Kiama municipality have one final hurdle to overcome before becoming policy, with plans to create a mandatory register to be debated again tomorrow night.
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Last month, councillors voted to include the register as part of the new short-term rental accommodation policy, despite staff recommendations to delete the requirement.

Deputy Mayor Brian Petschler, who lodged a rescission motion on the matter, said there was some confusion among the councillors when the register was voted on.

“But more to the point it is my strong belief that there is not a need for a formal register for all properties,’’ Cr Petschler said.

“We just need to monitor the properties for which there are complaints.”

Cr Petschler has the support of Kiama Tourism chairman Brian Longbottom who said the overall holiday rental policy was about setting guidelines and a mandatory register had nothing to do with guidelines.

“What is its purpose? Why do you need it?,’’ he asked.

“If there were thousands of complaints it might be different, but the council has received 13 in three years.’’

Kiama’s Short Term Holiday Rental Accommodation Policy was developed after years of agitation by Kiama residents.

A Wollongong City Council spokesman said Wollongong had not made any moves to control the rental of dwelling houses for tourist accommodation – or student accommodation for that matter.

A Shellharbour City Council spokeswoman said Shellharbour’s ordinary rental market has a high occupancy rate, so doesn’t have the same issues as Kiama in relation to the volume of holiday properties in their LGA.

Cr Petschler said the intent of Kiama’s policy was to set up a structure which enabled the council to act on “amenity issues”.

“Under the old LEP [local environment plan], we had nothing at all,” Cr Petschler said.

“We now have a control plan that enables us to investigate and act on complaints regarding amenity as set out in the DCP.

He admitted the council could be seen as creating a policy that would be too strong for some people and not strong enough for others.

‘‘I’m confident the structure we have set up will work in the longer term,’’ he said.

“There is a problem [with holiday rentals] but I think it has been overblown.

“A small number of properties have had chronic problems, one or two others have had some problems, but that is still a small minority of the total and these are the ones we really have to pick up.

“We now have a structure that gives us the the power to overcome the problem properties.

“You won’t stop every complaint.

‘‘There will always be problems we have to deal with, but I think we have a much more focused DCP.’’

Tomorrow night’s Kiama council meeting will be the last for at least six councillors, including Kiama Mayor Sandra McCarthy.

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