Renters’ amnesty comes to an end
Council to scour adverts for compliance
A council crackdown on hundreds of Queenstown and Wanaka renters farming out tourist rooms online has netted 190 voluntary registrations as accommodation providers - and more than $100,000 for council coffers.
In March the Queenstown Lakes District Council issued a three-month amnesty for those who rent accommodation to short-term visitors, but avoided correct registration.
An end of May deadline was set to enable owners to register properties for visitor accommodation or apply for resource consent, or face a shutdown by council enforcers.
A June 1 deadline was also set for anyone not complying.
Although the move was not sparked by a specific incident, it took into account the developing trend of rooms or houses to rent being listed online.
The council’s general manager of legal and regulatory matters Scott Carran said although the enforcement deadline had now been in operation for more than a month, the council was seeking to work with property owners.
‘‘Now that the amnesty period has ended, our staff will be checking accommodation websites and advertisements to check that all the properties being advertised for short-term rental have been registered as visitor accommodation,’’ he said.
‘‘We prefer to work with property owners to encourage them to comply with the rules so if we find properties that have not been registered, we will send the owners a letter requiring them to register and comply with the provisions of the District Plan.’’
The penalties for noncompliance start with a $300 infringement fee.
The council may also issue an abatement notice, requiring the owner to cease using the property for visitor accommodation.
Non-compliance with an abatement notice carries a $750 penalty.
Registering as a homestay or rental holiday home will boost an average rates bill by more than $500, as the property is then assessed under the mixeduse category, reflecting partial use for commercial purposes and incurring an approximate 25 per cent rates increase.
In May the Airbnb website had 185 rooms or properties in Queenstown listed as available for short stays, starting at $65 a night, and 101 rooms or properties available in Wanaka, Cromwell, Arrowtown and Gibbston starting from $49 a night.
The site now list 248 rooms or properties in Queenstown, and 108 in Wanaka, Cromwell, Arrowtown and Gibbston.