Short-term rental woes

MORTON COTTAGE: Juanita Manahan in the beautiful gardens surrounding her short-term rental accomodation, Morton Cottage. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.
MORTON COTTAGE: Juanita Manahan in the beautiful gardens surrounding her short-term rental accomodation, Morton Cottage. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.

“They bring so much to our economy and community.” 

This is what Juanita Manahan said about Airbnb and Stayz properties in the Southern Highlands. 

Mrs Manahan rents out Morton Cottage in Bundanoon on these websites. “We have people come and stay usually for two or three nights and they get a real taste of the Highlands,” she said. 

But Airbnb and Stayz properties may not be as easy and convenient in future. 

The NSW government recently released an Options Paper on the topic of short-term holiday accomodation and has asked the community for opinions before they begin regulating short-term holiday letting through websites like Stayz and Airbnb.  

Under the new changes, security will become a more important issue. 

The proposed changes stated that short-term letters will need a licence and will have to pay a levy for extra security and maintenance of amenities. The Government may also impose a time limit on letters. 

Mrs Manahan said she and her husband would have to reconsider renting out their cottage if these new changes came into effect. “I can see why the government would regulate city accommodation,” she said. 

“I used to live in a city apartment and you are cramped in so closely that it would be irritating to have strangers coming in and out. But city and country [or regional] properties should be looked at differently.”

A quick peek at Morton Cottage showed that most of the furnishings were sourced from the Highlands. 

“We have wine from the Highlands for the guests, our change-over is done by a local woman and all our firewood is from Bundanoon,” she said. 

“These Stayz and Airbnb properties bring so much back into the community.”

A recent report by ACIL Allen Consulting highlighted the significant benefit of short-term accommodation. In NSW, short-term rental accommodation provided an economic lift of nearly $2.1 billion to the NSW economy and supported 13,983 jobs in the state.

Mrs Manahan said there was a clear distinction between regional and city short term rental accomodation. 

“We are welcoming people here, we want them to come and enjoy everything this lovely town has to offer," she said. 

“We show them where the shops are, where to eat and we take them to Glow Worm Glen sometimes, but the bottom line is if it becomes to regulated we will have to consider whether we continue to rent the cottage out on those sites.”

Stayz director of corporate and government affairs Jordan Condo said the Options Paper contained changes that would hurt economic growth and jobs in rural and regional NSW. 

“Unfortunately, these options do not properly consider the damage to regional tourism and jobs,” he said. 

“Holiday homes are the lifeblood of many regional towns and cities, but the government has ignored regional constituents in their response.”

The proposed changes will be open to public consultation over the next three months.