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Rental crisis caused by short-stay businesses leaving NSW tenants evicted and homeless

Nick Crowley and his dog Barney have been evicted twice from two different rental properties. (ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory)

Nick Crowley and his dog Barney have become good at packing up their worldly belongings and moving. 

As a renter at Orange in central west New South Wales, he has had to do it twice in just over a year because the owners wanted to lease the homes to companies to charge higher rent. 

"It was a bit frustrating having to pack up again about four months after I'd just unpacked everything."

His experience is not unique. 

The ABC has been told that many tenants across NSW had been given notice at their rental properties, with landlords wanting to either sell to capitalise on the housing market or flip their properties into short-term stays available through companies such as Airbnb and Stayz.

Higher returns on offer

Shoalhaven City Council (SCC) Mayor Amanda Findlay said she had seen a surge in the number of people in her south coast NSW community who could not find housing because rental properties were now being used for short-term lets.

"What I've noticed the most is that more and more homes are being bought for business purposes to be renting out on the short-term rental market," she said. 

Mayor Findley wants government support to control the rise in short-term accommodation. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

SCC figures showed that more than one-third of the area's properties were owned by people who lived outside of the region. 

Ms Findlay said that figure rose to 80 per cent in local villages, which created other social problems.

An option to cap

The NSW government has given councils the option to cap the number of days properties could be used for short-term accommodation. 

The Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) on the far south coast is one of them but has chosen not to impose any limit.

The district has about 900 properties that would have qualified. 

"It has very little effect and would only have made 15 per cent of those properties available at best if we'd had a 180-day cap," BVSC Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said. 

"It would have been more if it had been a 90-day cap."

Bega Valley Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick says local residents are unable to find rental properties. (ABC South East: Adriane Reardon )

Amanda Findlay said the cap on days would not provide secure, year-round housing.

"Some of the holiday homes may come into the market for a short period of time but that also has the downside for those already homeless, sleeping in appalling conditions," she said.

Policy 'regulating' industry

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment said its short-term rental accommodation policy balanced the positive economic impacts of holiday homes with the need to support local housing markets. 

The spokesperson said the policy regulated a previously unregulated industry. 

An Australian Short Term Rental Association spokesperson said data was needed to analyse the impact of short-term lets on the long-term rental market. 

He said this information was currently being compiled from regulations established by the NSW government.

Calls for government intervention

Both mayors said the NSW and federal governments needed to show greater leadership to limit the impact of short-term accommodation.

Ms Findlay said the creation of zones for short-term stays within local government areas, and the introduction of bed taxes, could inject some regulation and balance into the market without significantly impacting tourism. 

"What we also see is inaction from the state government and the federal government around, 'How do we get some tax out of that transaction to support these communities that need to make a change?'," she said. 

Rental vacancies have contracted across regional NSW. (ABC North Coast: Bruce MacKenzie)

Mr Fitzpatrick said the impact of short-term accommodation on the rental market was another reason governments needed to deliver more social and affordable housing. 

"We need them to be affordable at the rental price that people can afford to pay."