Nelson holiday home renters charging hundreds of dollars may face stricter rules
Homeowners paying for their Christmas break with big money earned from renting out their homes may face tougher compliance rules as part of a local government review.
Bookabach, Holidayhouses and Airbnb are just some of the websites used by Nelson residents to rent their homes over the Christmas-New Year period. Some have been getting up to $400 a night from holidaying families keen to soak up the region's sunshine.
Homeowners renting out rooms, including for bed and breakfast, are allowed up to four people staying without a Nelson City Council resource consent.
One Nelson man, who did not want to be named, heard friends were renting out their homes for hundreds of dollars a night. So when he planned to go away, he decided to give it a go and listed his four bedroom home in Tasman Heights on Airbnb.
"I threw up a silly rate," the man, who did not want to be named, said.
Two families of four booked seven nights at $400 a night. "I was like, 'geez, that's alright, I'll take that. That's just paid for our holiday'."
He said he was away with five other families from Dunedin and Sydney who were also making money from strangers living in their homes.
Holiday home websites are teeming with houses to rent across Nelson and Tasman. The Bookabach site had 588 homes listed in region, including 179 in Nelson city.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council has completed an audit of homes being listed as holiday rentals. It will send notices to almost 800 residents reminding them they need to register their properties as visitor accommodation, apply for resource consent, or stop advertising for short-term rentals.
Queenstown homeowners are allowed to rent their properties for up to 28 days a year without their rates being affected but homes rented out frequently faced about a 25 per cent increase in rates.
Nelson City Council chief executive Clare Hadley said the council was not "actively checking residential properties offering commercial accommodation".
But she said the council was in the process of reviewing the Nelson Resource Management plan.
It aimed to release a new draft resource management plan, which include commercial accommodation regulations, by the end of 2017. The public would be able to make submissions once the draft was released.
Hadley said where the homeowner was living on the property, they could have up to four holiday makers staying as well, without a resource consent.
Council communications spokesman Paul Shattock said the council had not "given any indication about making the rules stricter and all elements of the Nelson Plan will be available for the public to make submissions on".
However, the council advised that foregoing a resource consent when offering commercial accommodation could pose risks, including insurance issues.
AMI Nelson branch manager Vicki Beauchamp suggested policy holders contacted their insurer if they planned to let their property out on a short term basis so that there were "no surprises.
"We can then give specific advice that will fit their needs, as depending on their type of house policy, there could be policy considerations for home owners to be aware of while the property is tenanted."
She said some insurance had limited cover while premises were tenanted but it was likely most policies would be able to provide cover.
A Tahunanui mother, who also did not want to be named, said she listed her four bedroom family home in Nelson's popular beach destination for $320 a night on the Holidayhouses site.
Two families stayed together in her home for eight days.
The house owner said she stored personal items in the home's locked garage during the lease.
She said there were "pros and cons" to the practice.
"It's nice to get a bit of money when you go away but it is kind of a weird feeling having someone in your house. I was quite picky about who we got. No under 25 [year-olds] and we made sure they had kids."
Despite the house being left tidy, it took two days getting things back to normal.
"We're finding things in all sorts of funny places."
According to her neighbour in his 60s, people used to camp down at Tahunanui and rent their homes out for the summer.
"He was saying it used to be a common thing in Nelson."
The internet has made it easier for people to list and find holiday homes but it's not a new concept.
Nelson woman Jenny Orchard ran a holiday accommodation business for 30 years until the internet forced her to give up the job two years ago.
When Orchard's business took off in 1984, homes were being rented out from $30 a night. Fast forward 30 years later and Orchard said those same homes reached $250 a night.
She was surprised to hear homes were now attracting $400 nightly rates.
Orchard's service linked people with 200 to 300 homes per season while making sure homeowners and travellers received the best care.
Orchard carried out house inspections, took photos to send to potential renters and would interview families to ensure the right home went to the right people.
"I did my very best for tourism in Nelson for a long time. It's the easiest place in the world to sell."
Most of the holidaymakers were English and European seeking ocean views, with Mapua a popular destination.
The two most frequent questions were: "Is it walking distance to the sea?" and "Can I bring my dog?"