Stop punishing our resorts and residents. How to fix a broken system

We recently wrote about the short term visitor accommodation disaster Noosa finds itself in, and how misguided policies helped get us there.

Noosa Council has actually made things WORSE by –

  1. encouraging long term residential use of visitor resort accommodation
  2. discouraging resorts from their intended use to accommodate visitors
  3. allowing ‘motel’ businesses to flourish in residential neighbourhoods
  4. failing to adopt nuanced, targeted policies that help channel visitors into appropriate, well-managed accommodation

Noosa Council’s well-intentioned but misdirected responses have added to resorts losing business and left residents disappointed. We are not experts in government policy, but we think there are easy fixes to support residents and resorts get out of this hell that they have helped create.

Is our Council listening?

If Noosa Council was sincere in wanting to reduce the incidence of short stay letting in residential areas and protect resorts for tourists then council rates should encourage this strategy.  

There is no more powerful lever to use than the ‘price signal’ that comes in the form of well-targeted rates.

The Transitory Accommodation rate should become ‘favoured’ (cheaper) in strata but ‘least favoured’ (more expensive) in residential areas.  This means an owner of a unit used for short-term letting in a purpose-built resort would pay a cheaper general rate, not the most expensive rate, as it does now.

We appreciate that setting a short term let unit general rate cheaper than an owner occupier rate in a resort is a bold move for a Council, particularly as locals (not investors) vote in elections. A first step could be to make the general rate for all units in a resort equal across all categories of ownership or investment use.

Council should exempt all resorts and units let under a Resident Manager operating under the Accommodation Module of BCCM legislation from the Short Stay Letting (SSL) Local Law.

Resorts by their regulation, licensing and bylaws already operate systems to manage short stays and at a higher benchmark than the local council code of conduct.

Resorts are expert and obligated to manage issues around short term visits.  It’s what we do.  If we do it well, EVERYBODY wins.  Why not encourage us to keep doing it?

The Law is also discriminatory in that it exempts some resorts such as Ivory Palms, Noosa Lakes and areas such as Hastings Street precinct because their zoning or development approval does not allow ‘residential occupancy’ in these resorts. 

The Queensland Government;  eerily silent

The State Government’s silence has tacitly sanctioned recent local government regulations that penalize owners under the Queensland Property Occupations Act 2014 who buy an investment unit and trust resident managers as their letting agent and is at odds with the overall state government direction for tourist accommodation investment under the BCCM legislation.

Local Government and State Government together

Planning changes should be considered so that short stay letting is not allowed in residential areas and only ‘ tourist’ and ‘short stay lets are allowed in purpose-built resorts. This would take us back to the good old days when tourists stayed in resorts and residents – mostly – lived in harmony with tourism.

Incentives or rebates could encourage permanent letting rather than short stay letting in residential areas thus reducing the number of short stay let properties and ‘ lock ups ‘ in Noosa.

The Future for Resorts and Residents…

Despite the difficulties of the last few years, Resident Managers are hopeful that Noosa Council will step up and address the unfair treatment of resorts… significant employers and contributors to our local economy.

We hope also that the State Government, as both the creator and regulator, will act to protect resorts operating under the Accommodation Module in management rights, particularly as the Queensland Government espouses tourism as an underpinning strategy for growth.

Lastly, how wonderful if Noosa Residents added their voices to get the message across that Resorts should be the first choice for tourist accommodation in Noosa.

All of this supports the basic principle that if we create a better place for our residents, beneficial tourism will surely follow.

Cathy Parry-Moule, Marketing GM, The Islander Noosa Resort.

The Islander Noosa Resort

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Dear Chris, yes and how perfect if they sold resort short term let units to investors only, that would help solve availability in residential for residences and reduce stress in resorts. Bula Cathy

  2. Avatar

    This problem will never be solved while Real Estate Agents are able to double dip by giving preferential treatments to investors.

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