Mayor Tony Wellington speaks out about his concerns about online short-stays.
Mayor Tony Wellington speaks out about his concerns about online short-stays. Peter Gardiner

Being stripped of good life by party house stays

STRIPPERS turning up 10pm for a raucous bucks party at the short-term rental next door to her in a Noosa Heads residential area, helped bring an angry Genevieve Barker to this flashpoint.

Ms Barker on Wednesday night unleashed 12 months of anger and frustration of living beside 'party central' week after week, towards the end of a packed community meeting.

Already Tourism Noosa's deputy chair Elizabeth Reynolds had spoken of her concerns about the tsunami-like impact of these short-term online booking stays.

Ms Barker said her life had gone "pear-shaped” since the parties started.

"You've all talked about the noise, the rubbish, the parking (problems)... no one has said how sleep depri- vation impacts on your life.”

And others in the Noosa Lions Football clubhouse crowd, based on their verbal support, also knew her pain.

"We can't go outside in our gardens any more, we can't hear yourself think at two o'clock on a Saturday afternoon,” Ms Barker said.

And then she gave the address of her nightmare neighbour, saying the house is "party &@*(%$ central” which sparked a burst of loud applause.

"Meantime, I have to get up and go to work.”

She said these holiday house landlords don't "spend the weekend next door when we have a bucks party that turns up”.

"It's supposed to be six or eight people (staying). You get a bunch of guys and at 10 o'clock, the strippers turn up.”

She said these parties were literally making her ill. Ms Barker said last weekend a group of next door house guests checked in 2pm on the Friday partied all night and went to bed at 7am.

"I thought I'd bought into a residential area and it's not. And I want to know where are the residential areas?” another upset woman said.

This was at the heart of the concerns that caused the Noosa Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association and the Cooroy Area Residents Association to call this meeting where Mayor Tony Wellington was the lead-off speaker.

Cr Wellington and council is leading a state-wide push to identify the addresses of these short-term rentals, look to impose an equitable tourism levy, seek the powers from the state to impose greater controls and limit the annual night stays per year.

The mayor said council can't control what it doesn't know about, and the council's best estimate of these short online stays in Noosa was about 3000 and possibly around 100 paid the levy.

He said Airbnb properties had gone up generally around 400 per cent across the shire in the past two years in terms of listings.

"We are capturing very few at the moment of these maybe 3000 online short-term rental properties. We think we're capturing a little over a hundred in all.”

He said a state short-term stay reference group he is part of has handed down a report which he hoped would lead to new legislative powers to act, especially on party-house style rentals where the landlord does not live on the premises.

This was after he said a council investigation indicated that more than 40% of the rental accommodation on exclusive Witta Circle in Noosa Heads now was given over to this bulk-booking short-stays.

"We are dealing with a town plan that was built before the online rental sector appeared,” Cr Wellington said.

He said the council was looking to introduce a more equitable levy system with this new sector.

The council will consider lower levy charges for principal places of residence that are "genuinely home-hosted”.

"What we don't want to see really is a situation where a retired couple letting out a spare room on occasion, is paying out the same amount as a property that is let 52 weeks of the year and is an entire six-bedroom house,” Cr Wellington said

He said the new town plan would be looking to address this problem as much as it could "but it's not unfortunately a simple matter”.

"In the meantime, we don't have the legislative power to go to a property and tell people to turn the music down and be quiet thanks. It's a policing issue, it's a state issue,” the mayor said.

He said only the Gold Coast has "party house” control legislation incorporated in its planning scheme, but Noosa was looking to address that.

"I hear a lot of this about people who have to suffer party houses and absolute total impact and desecration of their amenity as a result of rental properties nearby and I wish we could do more,” the mayor said.

"That is why we are pressing to try and be able to manage the situation in a way that we can't under current legislation.”

Sunshine Beach live-in Airbnb host Adrienne Penny said she has been renting out her home to "help pay the bills” and did pay the tourism levy.

Ms Penny said she was charged $1600 a year because the levy is based on the property land value which was "far above the average” of $553.

"I'm sure there's lots of mums and dads here who are doing the same kind of thing and we are being penalised,” she said.

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