The number of commercial listings run by property managers has significantly increased, according to Inside Airbnb. (ABC News: Michael Barnett)
Airbnb has always maintained it’s about mums and dads renting out space in their homes for a modest profit.
- Airbnb listings in Australia grew from 43,610 in 2016 to 89,863 in December 2017, according to Inside Airbnb
- There was massive jump in number of entire homes listed over same period — making up nearly 70 per cent of all listings
- Airbnb guests contribute $1.6 billion to Australia’s GDP and creates significant savings for tourists, according to economists
But new data shows an explosion in the number of entire homes and commercial listings, such as serviced apartments run by property managers, on the platform.
Airbnb rarely releases its own data, but the independent monitoring website Inside Airbnb — set up by New York-based Australian Murray Cox — has released its latest analysis of the platform’s public listings.
There has been an 87 per cent rise in total listings across Australia in the past 12 months.
There’s also been a massive jump in the number of entire homes available — from 43,610 in 2016 to 89,863 in December 2017, making up nearly 70 per cent of all listings, according to Inside Airbnb.
Mr Cox, an unashamed data activist who’s against urban gentrification, said the data showed Sydney and Melbourne were on track to become “the playgrounds of millionaires and tourists”.
In Melbourne, more than 12,474 entire homes are available for booking, making up 60 per cent of all listings.
There’s also been a spike in the city’s multi-listings, which are numerous listings by one user, up 107 per cent in the past 12 months.
In Sydney, while the use of Airbnb appears to have slowed slightly on last year, there are currently 32,830 listings — a fifth of which are multi-listings — and the majority are entire homes.
The use of the booking platform in Hobart remains small in comparison to the mainland, but according to Inside Airbnb the listings there have more than doubled and the majority are entire homes.
The Airbnb boom is fuelling discontent among residents who believe apartment blocks are becoming quasi-hotels, and short-stay rentals are changing the make-up of cities and chewing up would-be housing stock.
While Airbnb says the majority of hosts rent their primary residence occasionally for a modest boost to the household income, Inside Airbnb figures suggest properties rented out for more than 60 nights across Australia are on the rise.
Airbnb’s Australian head of public policy Brent Thomas has rejected Inside Airbnb’s analysis.
“Dodgy scraped data or the back-of-the-napkin analyses are grossly misleading and deeply inaccurate,” Mr Thomas said.
The booking platform said there was no reliable way to calculate how often hosts book out their properties or rooms, and multiple listings could be for the same property.
However, cities across the world, such as Barcelona, have been tightening regulation around short-stay accommodation. Mr Cox said Australia needed to catch up.
“Cities that have been grappling with it for 10 years are moving towards yearly permits, only allowing [listings] in primary residency, notifying building owners and neighbours of intent,” Mr Cox said.
“The laws being proposed in Australia goes completely in the opposite direction than the rest of the world. A study of what the rest of the world is doing would be very appropriate.”
‘People can come in and cause total chaos’
After bad experiences in Canberra, Chris Clark was adamant he didn’t want to buy an apartment next to any short-stay accommodation when he moved to Melbourne.
“We made it pretty clear that we were looking for a place not close to serviced apartments,” he said.
He bought into the New Quay complex at Docklands, but a short time later the apartment next door was sold and the new owners listed it as a short-term rental.
Chris Clark says he’s had bad experiences living near short-stay accommodation. (ABC News: Naomi Selvaratnam)
Since then Mr Clark said he had put up with blaring music at all hours, rubbish such as cans and cigarettes dropping from balconies, and chairs being thrown from a 14th floor into common areas.
The latest owners-corporation figures show more than a third of all apartments in Mr Clark’s complex are short-stay rentals.
“That’s bringing people who are unvetted into the building. We had an incident in December where one of these subletting people had their apartment trashed and they wanted our security to throw them out,” Mr Clark said.
He said people were buying into what they thought was a community, but instead got a pseudo hotel.
In Canberra, his owners corporation had the option of fining the owner of the apartment up to $500, but in Victoria he said powers were limited.
“These people can come in and cause total chaos, clear out the next morning, there’s no consequences, simply because the owners corporation has no power to fine anybody,” Mr Clark said.
He said security problems were growing and general building rules followed by residents were being disregarded by tourists.
Balance between tourist dollars and communities
According to Deloitte Access Economics, Airbnb guests contribute $1.6 billion to Australia’s GDP, support more than 14,000 jobs, and create significant savings for tourists.
The importance of the tourism dollar has left state governments grappling with the need to balance a complex mix of tourism interests, and property and consumer rights.
Strata lawyer Tom Bacon said currently the laws provided little regulation over short-stay rentals.
“There is nothing. It is a real mess at the moment,” he said. “It’s like the Wild West. You can do what you like — it’s 365 days of the year for short-term letting.”
Last year, proposed changes to Victoria’s short-stay accommodation bill, which aims to deal with “unruly guests”, was criticised for not providing any recourse or consumer protections for residents affected by short stayers.
There were also calls from the tourism industry to delay any changes to the law for two years.
“It is more of the day-in, day-out struggles that I see acting for owners corporations — it’s the disenfranchisement of these communities which is leading to a downward death spiral for community engagement,” Mr Bacon said.
The NSW Government is reviewing more than 4,000 community and industry submissions on proposed regulations for short-term accommodation and building use.
The state’s Fair Trading department is also investigating allegations that real-estate agencies are promoting short-term holiday accommodation, in breach of development approval and building codes.
Other cities across the world have imposed minimum stays, permits and licenses, fines for disruption, and are policing illegal listings.
San Francisco has implemented a 90-day cap on entire-home listings, and owners can be fined for renting without a permit, but platforms like Airbnb also face a $1,000-a-day fine for illegal listings.
“The way the sharing economy is going and technology is developing, it is a hard task for regulators to keep up, but … short-term letting and Airbnb and Stayz have been around for long enough now it’s time for governments to catch up,” Mr Bacon said.
Airbnb said it wanted to work collaboratively with governments to ensure sustainable communities, but also wanted rules that worked for modern day homeowners.
The ABC has asked the company to release its own data.