Party time!
Party time! Peta Hempsall

How Airbnb turned quiet street into party central

WHAT do you do when your quiet, residential street becomes party central after your neighbours rent out their homes through Airbnb?

This is what a Mooloolaba resident, who asked to remain anonymous, wants to know after three homes in his street in an older part of Mooloolaba became listed on the short-term accommodation website.

During the busy Christmas period, the resident experienced a "dramatic change to the neighbourhood environment".

They had eight "very different" groups of people renting one of their neighbour's home for short periods, usually weekends.

"We have had to deal with noisy parties and gatherings, slamming doors, parking congestion in our street, rubbish tossed over the fence into our yard and a huge impact on our quiet street," he said.

"These activities are very stressful and extremely unwelcome. We live next door to what has now become a weekend 'party house'."

The two other properties listed on Airbnb were more closely managed and were being offered at higher prices.

But the one next door was also attracting large numbers of guests, certainly "more than the maximum numbers allowed on the listing".

"There were four or five bongo vans parked there the one night and they partied through the night," he said.

"We are very anxious about who is going to turn up and what it will do to our neighbourhood."

He contacted the Sunshine Coast Council who advised him someone from another department would get back with a response.

He also bumped into his local councillor, John Connolly, who said there had been a "few similar complaints".

"It's becoming a problem around the world," the resident said.

"If I lived down the front of Mooloolaba or in Alex where I was surrounded by units, fair enough, but I'm living in a residential area.

"The area behind us is a (long-term) rental, but that's okay because there are strings attached and its not just for weekends.

"I wonder what health and fire safety checks there are.

"I don't think short term-accommodation should be allowed in residential neighbourhoods."

A council spokeswoman advised the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 regulated short-term accommodation requirements on the Sunshine Coast.

"Council investigates all inquiries and complaints received relating to short-term accommodation to determine if a development offence has occurred," she said.

"If a breach has occurred, council officers will take appropriate action against the owner, which would require use to cease until the necessary permits have been obtained and/or resulting in the issuing of show cause and enforcement notices, on-the-spot fines or possible legal action.

"Due to the complexity of the Airbnb requirements, council advises that all inquiries are to be referred to the development information counter, where a case by case response can be provided."

Airbnb has more than 300 properties listed as available in Mooloolaba alone.

Sunshine Coast lawyer Ken Waddington advised in his latest newsletter that Airbnb required a person to sign they were complying with applicable zoning laws.

But he said what action happened depended on "where you live and whether your neighbours lodge a complaint about you".

He cited the example of Wally Salinger, a resident in western suburb of Sydney who received a notice from this council "threatening him with a $1.1 million fine for using his home as an Airbnb rental after a neighbour lodged a complaint".

The Daily is approaching Airbnb for comment.

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