LUXURY: La Maison Pacifique, at Casuarina, has been shut down by Tweed Shire Council following complaints from neighbours.
LUXURY: La Maison Pacifique, at Casuarina, has been shut down by Tweed Shire Council following complaints from neighbours. Taefi Photography 0412-882764

Holiday home shuts amid holiday letting confusion

THE owners of a luxury short-term holiday let home at Casuarina forced to shut their doors, say they have been "unfairly” singled out by Tweed Shire Council.

Sally and Chris Johannsen were ordered to cease letting their home out to holidaymakers by this Friday, or face a fine of up to $1 million, plus $10,000 per day thereafter.

Their property, La Maison Pacifique at 6 Beason Court, was used by the family as their holiday home and sub-let at other times after they purchased it in 2011.

Since moving to London in 2014, the house has been permanently advertised on popular holiday letting websites such as AirBnB as well as on their own personal webpage with an occupancy rate of around 35 per cent.

The five-bedroom home, which sleeps a maximum of 10 people, attracts weekly rates of more than $6950 during the peak season and about half that off-peak.

Ms Johannsen said they had tried to do the right thing, running a professional set-up to attract well-behaved visitors.

"We purposely did that from day one,” Ms Johannsen said from London.

"Our strategy has been less people at a higher price.

"Everyone wants people to enjoy their house, they want them to enjoy the local amenities, to visit the local cafes, shop at the local shops, bring money into the region to employ people and build a community, nobody wants their property to be trashed.”

But, after complaints from neighbours around parking and noise - none of which were followed up by police - council on May 4 served them with a notice to close.

"We are very disappointed,” Ms Johannsen said.

"We will have to permanently let it out now.

"It is such a shame... because we employ cleaners, gardeners, pool guys, gas bottle people, handyman, air-conditioning people.

"As with any house, when you try to offer the bet possible STHL there are an enormous amount of costs incurred and we use locals exclusively.

"We feel very sad that our locals, who we have relied on for so many years, we are no longer able to support them.”

Ms Johannsen said she felt their property had been singled out by council, believing theirs to be the only property issued with a notice to close despite 14 others identified by council as operating "without approval”.

She further queried why council was acting now, in full knowledge of the NSW Parliamentary enquiry into short term holiday letting which is yet to finalise its recommendations.

Council's director of planning Vince Connell said legal advice had been sought regarding options for action over the "continued unauthorised use” of the property at 6 Beason Court.

He said council had at its meeting on May 5 decided to defer taking widespread action against unauthorised or non-compliant STHLs ... "except where it can be demonstrated that such uses are having an unreasonable impact on surrounding neighbours”.