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Motel owners unhappy with private digs

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 10:09 05/06/2014

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Almost as many rooms are available to rent each night in private homes in Marlborough as there are in motels, Motel Association national chief executive Michael Baines says.

That poses a risk to the Marlborough District Council because those homes don't have to meet the same safety standards as commercial operators and visitors could be at risk, he says.

Baines and Marlborough Motel Association president Noel Noble spoke to a hearing of submissions on the council's draft annual plan and told councillors that the private and commercial providers needed to be governed by the same rules.

The failure of the council to tackle the anomalies and to not enforce their own rules meant Marlborough motel owners had reduced incomes and were unwilling to invest further to provide the quality accommodation needed here, they said.

Noble said that in the past four years, motel owners' income had dropped 25 per cent.

Council rules say that any homeowner providing accommodation to five or more people needs to have a resource consent for that business. However, they do not have to meet the same access, fire regulations, and other health and safety requirements as commercial providers.

Baines said the growth of the internet had led to an explosion of private providers, to the point where there were 458 rooms available each night in Marlborough now, equal to 27 motels. There were 29 motels in Marlborough, he said.

"If they're going to play in that field, they should play by the same rules."

Many of these did not meet council requirements and were not registered, Noble said. One example of the three he had found before the council meeting that morning was offering to host up to 10 people at a time without proper consents.

Often, the private accommodation providers were not based here and did not contribute properly to Marlborough's economy.

Baines said commercial operators had to pass building "warrants of fitness" and full standards.

Other councils' actions were:

In Southland, providers had been identified and all had been written to, requiring them to register. In Wellington, anyone renting out for more than 28 days a year had to meet commercial standards.

Councillor Brian Dawson, a former chamber of commerce boss, said it was concerning the uneven playing field was leaving motel owners unwilling to invest.

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- The Marlborough Express

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