Saturday, May 11, 2013

Missing the point

Our little home town managed to get itself in the national media last week.

It involved a case before the Land & Environment Court about short term holiday lettings involving a house here in Terrigal.

It was an investment property producing income from short term lets, as quite a few in the area are, and neighbours complained about noise and inconvenience .

It somehow ended up as a zoning question - residential area, house being used for commercial purposes.

The court found that zoning laws had been breached and that short term letting under 2A residential zoning was unlawful.

Cat amongst the pigeons comes to mind because that's a decision having a major effect on communities all over the country. Not only individual investors are affected, plenty of small towns rely on holiday visitors to keep their businesses going.

Gosford Council has taken swift action to limit the damage and will bring in provisions to allow short term lets.

And it was all so unnecessary.

The problem isn't zoning or short term lets, the problem is who the properties are let to.

The neighbours in this case have complained for years that their "family life has been severely affected by the use of the home for schoolies and bucks and hens parties".

The court missed the point and looked at it as a bureaucratic problem, a breach of zoning laws.

While we were living in Dubai a neighbour two houses away sold up and the house was bought by an investor who placed it with a real estate agent for short term lets.

They decided to advertise it as a party house.  And that's the problem.

On several occasions my neighbours had to call the police because of the noise and antisocial behaviour of hoons who rented it.

Bucks and hens weekends, with noisy drunks staggering around the street in their underwear, screaming and hooting at strippers they brought in, loud thumping music through the night.

They managed to locate the owner and told him what was happening. He instructed the real estate cowboy to re-advertise it as a family holiday house.  Since then, most weekends it's rented and we haven't had to complain once.

Simple, it fixed the problem, the owner still has a return on investment, the town still gets its visitors.

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