The District Plan contains provisions that control the use of properties for guest or holiday accommodation within Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

The use of residential properties for guest accommodation activities is becoming increasingly popular, with the availability of online advertising and web-based booking facilities.

If you rent your home or a residential property to short-term fee paying guests you may need to apply for resource consent under the Christchurch District Plan. The rules vary depending on the location and zoning of the property, the type of accommodation, and whether all or just part of the house will be rented out.

The following information provides a general summary of the rules in the Christchurch District Plan(external link). Please refer to the District Plan itself for full information on the relevant provisions.

Changing the use of an existing building can also trigger requirements under the Building Act and associated responsibilities to upgrade fire safety facilities, and have an impact on rates and insurance.

If you’re not sure whether your proposed guest accommodation activity requires a resource consent or a change of use under the Building Act, please call us on 03 941 8999 or contact the Duty Planner.

In residential zones, guest accommodation is generally restricted to bed and breakfast activities where the owner lives permanently on site.

Farm stays are permitted in most rural zones provided they are associated with farming or other rural-related activities on the property.

Other types of guest accommodation are generally directed towards commercial zones, existing guest accommodation sites in the Central City or its periphery, or along arterial roads where guest accommodation has traditionally located (shown on the Planning Maps as the Accommodation and Community Facilities overlay). 

More information about the District Plan provisions for specific types of accommodation is provided below.

Small scale bed and breakfast operations that use only part of a residential unit are permitted in residential zones if the following criteria are met:

  1. A maximum of 6 guests at any one time
  2. At least one owner of the residential unit resides permanently on site and
  3. No guest is given accommodation for more than 90 consecutive days
  4. There is no sale of alcohol involved.
  5. Designated visitor parking needs to be provided if the bed and breakfast activity takes up more than 10% of the total floor area.  As an example, a bed and breakfast involving 1-3 bedrooms will require one visitor carpark, plus one or two carparks for the residents (depending whether the residential part of the house is under or over 150m2).

If the accommodation will be provided in a new building, or an extension or conversion of an existing building, the usual built form rules for the zone will also apply.

A resource consent will be needed if any of these requirements are not met.

Farm stay accommodation associated with a residential unit on the property is permitted in most rural zones if the following criteria are met:

  1. A maximum of 4-10 guests at any one time, depending on the zone and site location
  2. The farm stay is accessory to a farming, conservation or rural tourism activity (i.e. the farm stay is not the main activity on the site)
  3. Guests may be accommodated within an existing residential unit or minor residential unit. In the Rural Banks Peninsula zone they can also be accommodated in tramping huts, new building of up to 100m2, or in tents.

If the farm stay is located within certain areas exposed to airport noise the number of guests is limited to 4, and they can only be accommodated within an existing residential unit.

Renting out a whole residential house or unit for holiday accommodation (e.g. Airbnb, holiday houses and baches) is not a permitted activity in most of the residential zones, which means that a resource consent is required. 

This is because non-residential/commercial activities can have negative effects on residential neighbours and the character and amenity of residential neighbourhoods. The resource consent process enables these effects to be assessed and a decision made about whether a proposed rental accommodation activity is appropriate in that particular location.

Operating a rental holiday accommodation activity on a property in a residential zone requires resource consent as a discretionary activity in most cases.  Under the District Plan, residential areas are generally limited to residential activities only, apart from community facilities and convenience activities which are restricted to locations on busier streets. 

Property owners will need to consult with their neighbours and are likely to have to obtain their written approval to the activity. 

They will need to demonstrate that the activity can be managed to minimise effects on neighbours and the wider environment.  They will also have to show that their proposal will not be contrary to the District Plan’s direction to locate guest accommodation activities in the already identified locations and zones, or undermine the role and function of commercial centres. 

A key consideration will be the need for the activity to be located in a residential zone rather than the zones and locations already anticipated by the Plan.  This has to be more than just the owner’s desire to provide the activity in a particular location - a genuine strategic or operational need (or local need in the case of the Central City) has to be justified.

Using a residential building for short-term, fee paying guests may not comply with the Building Act 2004, and could mean the main use of the building has changed. This may require increased fire prevention and detection measures to meet the Building Code.

Building owners need to notify the Council when the primary use of a residential building changes to guest or holiday accommodation.

The use of land and buildings in a manner that does not comply with the either the District Plan or the Building Act 2004 may result in enforcement action by Council.

Changing the use of a property can also have an impact on the way rates are calculated.

As well as meeting Council requirements, if you are thinking about using a property to provide guest or holiday accommodation we strongly encourage you to check with your insurance company regarding the change in use.