Do you have an AirBnB in Christchurch? Change is on the horizon

The Christchurch City Council (Council) has released a discussion document regarding potential changes to the Home-Share Accommodation (HSA) rules in the Christchurch District Plan (District Plan) and is inviting public feedback until Monday 2 March 2020.

These changes will not impact property owners who let a spare room in the house they occupy, but they will affect owners in residential and rural areas who let their entire property. Most of these “whole residential unit” listings are via platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Bookabach. Use of these sites has grown rapidly in Christchurch, with the percentage of accommodation guest nights booked via these websites rising from less than 1% in June 2016 to 27% in June 2019.

Under the current District Plan rules, in residential zones outside the central city and in rural areas, any whole unit rental requires a discretionary resource consent. Whole unit rentals in the central city are permitted in properties up to 40m2 and otherwise require discretionary resource consent.

The Council has put forward five options in the discussion document:

  1. No change to current provisions until the next full District Plan review
  2. Allow whole unit listings in residential and rural zones but place restrictions on the number of days of operation per year
  3. Allow whole unit listings in certain areas, including areas of either high or low demand, and in coastal areas
  4. Allow whole unit listings that meet specific criteria intended to minimise impacts on neighbours
  5. Allow whole unit listings everywhere, removing all restrictions and treating all HSA as a permitted residential activity.

The discussion document recognises the tension associated with HSA between enabling business and tourism and maximising economic and other benefits on the one hand, and encouraging the recovery of the central city and maintaining residential amenity and cohesion on the other. It will be interesting to see where this round of public engagement takes the Council on this important issue.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has also recently grappled with this issue through its Proposed District Plan review. While that process is still in the Environment Court appeals stage, the Council-level decisions indicated that “residential visitor accommodation”, as is it known in the Queenstown Lakes context, would be either permitted or controlled activities (meaning resource consent must be granted) in most zones for up to 90 days per year.

Lane Neave advised a number of luxury HSA providers who successfully submitted to the Council and increased the enablement of residential visitor accommodation in the Queenstown District.  See our update article here.

The Council’s HSA discussion document is available here.  As mentioned above, public feedback is due by Monday 2 March 2020.

Thank you to Mia Turner for preparing this article.

Resource Management team

Josh LeckieAnnabel Linterman, Kelsey Barry, Mia Turner

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