The Rotorua Lakes Council has approved a plan change meaning it will no longer require consents for most holiday rental properties, such as those listed on Airbnb or Bookabach sites.

Today it approved Plan Change 6 so that holiday rental operators would need consent only if more than 12 guests were paying to stay per night, or if there was less than one car park for every four people.

Councillor Karen Hunt, who chaired the Resource Management Act Policy Committee, said
"there was a need for a plan change because under our current district plan all of our current holiday rentals actually required consent".

"Now this escaped most of us, but they did require consent regardless of how large or small they were," she said.

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Councillor Karen Hunt in Rotorua. Photo/File
Councillor Karen Hunt in Rotorua. Photo/File

Hunt told the council the changes would help address noise and parking problems that arose in Tihi-o-Tonga in particular, where houses were let to groups of 20 or more.

Figures from the Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor for March 2018 showed a 67 per cent rise in Airbnb guest nights in the 2017/2018 summer in Rotorua, compared to the summer before.

Bookabach figures from 2017 showed only eight per cent of properties on the website catered for more than 12 people.

Under Plan Change 6, holiday rental operators hosting regular weddings or other celebrations such as 21sts would also require a resource consent, which would last for 28 days.

Councillor Rob Kent, who was a commissioner at the Plan Change 6 hearing earlier this month, reminded council that the rules did not apply to one-off events, or homeowners hosting their own gatherings.

Councillor Charles Sturt said the plan change addressed capacity concerns brought to his attention by community members.

"People said they bought in a residential section not expecting a 24h hotel/motel being next door to them."

Councillor Dave Donaldson raised the issue of "contiguous properties owned by one person which could accommodate in excess of 20 people but individually were below 12".

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Kent said, "We cannot capture separate properties adjacent to each other, because each of them is an individual ... We do capture several dwellings on one property because the limit of 12 would apply".

Hunt said residents could still report any problems with adjacent holiday rental properties to council.

The plan change would now be notified with a public notice and letters to submitters.

Submitters then had the ability to appeal.

Once any appeals were resolved, the change would come back to council for the common seal to be made operative.