© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

AirBnB hosts call for 'common-sense rules'

Blake Benny
rapaki retreat
The view of Rapaki Jetty from Debbie Rehu's "Rapaki Retreat"  Debbie Rehu

As Christchurch reviews its home-share accommodation regulations, hosts urge city council not to charge commercial rates.

The Christchurch City Council has received 570 public submissions on how to regulate home-share accommodation in the residential and rural zones of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

One of the submitters, Debbie Rehu, operates two AirBnBs with her husband Manaia in Rapaki. 

She said AirBnB created and supported jobs for Cantabrians and called for the council to apply "common sense" in applying regulations.

If the council decided to charge commercial rates, Rehu would be unable to continue as a host. AirBnB was her main source of income.

"We personally live on site and welcome all guests regardless of the time they arrive and after talking with them, providing them with itineraries, outlining various activities and places to visit and eat, not only in and around Lyttelton, the Bays and wider Christchurch, but the whole of New Zealand," Rehu said.

A group submission from the Christchurch AirBnB Host community noted that the home-sharing company accommodated about 250,000 guests in Christchurch last year.

Council Head of Planning and Strategic Transport David Griffiths said there was significant interest from the community judging by the number of public submissions.

He said the council would need to find a balance between recognising the benefits home-share accommodation brought to the city and managing its impact.

"If the council ultimately decides to notify a plan change, there will be an opportunity for people to make formal submissions on the proposed plan change and speak to those submissions at a hearing." 

The five proposed options include:

1. Keep the current District Plan rules.

2. Enable whole homes to be listed for a certain number of days.

3. Enable whole homes in certain areas and restrict in others.

4. Enable whole homes to be listed, subject to criteria.

5. Allow whole homes to be listed in residential or rural zones.