A Further Legacy From The Leach Council
Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 9:31AM
Bill Barclay

One of the most contentious issues surrounding rate setting over recent years concerned just how houses that are predominantly 'let' - often for extremely high rentals over holiday periods, were to be treated for rating purposes.

As many of us are aware, some of these bachs are let for extremely high rates, but are in turn often occupied to bursting point by high numbers of occupants - often two or even three extended families who share the cost.

It is fair enough for owners to attempt to cover their costs with high rentals at this time in order to cover their annual expenses, and often their mortgage payments, but is not fair on other rate-payers that they should be required to shoulder the burden of costs associated with providing the infrastructure  required by the peak occupancy during the few holiday weeks, mainly over the Eastern Seaboard.

It is this capital cost that was was created when the ES Wastewater System was designed and built from 2005-08 - a cost that 'blew-out' as our engineers went ballistic with sophistication and scale resulting in a scheme designed to suffice until 2040 with current redundant capacity, with some exceptions. 

As far back as 2008, Council has attempted to compensate for this by introducing levies through the rating system (and resource consents) in order to ensure that excessive occupancy could be monitored, and rated.

Various numbers and methods for achieving this were considered at the time - ten was the number arrived at if I am not mistaken, to trigger the higher rating, or levy, but it was not really until Bookaback, Bachcare and others became ubiquitous from about 2010 that the Council had a means by which to suss out what was going on in the rental sphere.

It was proposed that the booking agencies be checked to ensure when this figure was exceeded. But the proposal was always bound to be challenged when the last Council settled on a trigger point of six, and so it came to pass that Bookabach and the others ended up last month in an Environment Court Mediation, and our Council had to front to defend its stands on the matter.

Here is an extract from last month's Bookabach Newsletter:

"Coromandel: The 'two family holiday' saved!

The Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC), Bookabach, Bachcare and several other interested parties attended an Environment Court mediation session earlier this month. The topic of mediation was TCDC's plans to make short-term holiday rental to more than 6 paying guests require resource consent.

With over 50% of Coromandel inventory sleeping more than 6 people and over 30% of visitors there in a group of more than 6 people, we saw this as imposing unnecessary red tape and cost to bach owners.

We're pleased to say that the TCDC came around to our arguments on this and agreed to raising this to 12 paying guests. The two family holiday saved!"

Clearly, Council backed down at the last moment and reverted to twelve as the key trigger point. It was never going to be able to defend six - a ridiculously low limit when you think about normally extended families, but in effect twelve will prove equally hard to defend as neighbours and communities react to the likely invasion of privacy in some favoured areas.

The original figure of ten would have been better for all concerned, but it appears that they are now stuck with twelve having gone through Environment Court Mediation. 

I don't have a great deal of sympathy with home owners who feel that their rights are trampled by the influx of visitors - they must have known full-well what was likley to happen when they bought in, but I do believe that those involved in the rental game need to be required to pay for the additional load placed on our wastewater system in particular, by what is in some cases the quadrupling of population.

The occupancy limit appears an efficieint way to identify those on whom such a charge should be imposed, but twelve is too high in my books.



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