West Coast districts may end up with differing rules to regulate Airbnbs

2:25 pm on 24 April 2020

West Coast districts will eventually have one plan to rule them all - but they could still end up with very different rules for Airbnbs.

No caption

Photo: AFP

Council leaders who met this week to work on the one plan were divided on how homestays and Airbnbs should be regulated.

There are three options, according to Lois Easton, one of the planners engaged by the West Coast Regional Council to write the new plan.

Option one is to make homestays a permitted activity - but treat unhosted accommodation, like Airbnbs the same as motels - requiring rigorous resource consent.

Option two is to look at areas where a restricted resource consent could be required.

The third option is to make Airbnbs a permitted activity but enforce performance standards and require resource consent if the standards are not met.

The Te Tai o Poutini Plan Committee, made up of council leaders, iwi representatives and others, was divided on the choices.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine favoured option one: "It's the only clear way forward. I don't see why unhosted accommodation should be treated any differently from a motel."

Deputy Mayor Sharon Roche agreed: "The other options would need more policing - also they would loosen it up."

Grey district councillor Anton Becker supported the Buller position.

"They (Airbnbs) should be on a level playing field with motels. We've got to look after our commercial operators before we look after the private operators."

But Westland Mayor Bruce Smith favoured the more relaxed approach of option three.

"We have 600 Airbnbs in the Hokitika area, and they don't cause us any grief. They pay commercial rates if they get revenue of over $15,000 a year, and we're discussing dropping that to zero."

Airbnb owners had made a commercial decision and the Westland District Council did not want to restrict them, Smith said.

Their numbers had already reduced since the Covid-19 lockdown began.

"We've had 30 or 40 (come off the register) in the past two weeks ... at the moment many of them will be heading back rapidly into the residential market."

Easton said it would be possible for the three districts to take different approaches under the one plan.

"Don't feel like we have to reach a consensus on this. Where there are different views, please tell us and we will make sure to accommodate these in the plan."

Easton is one of three planners engaged to write the Te Tai o Poutini plan, at the direction of the Local Government Commission.

no metadata

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.