July 16, 2024

Pressure is mounting for dramatic action to curb the success of Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms as the housing crisis across the country continues.

Some property owners are making 80 per cent more money through holiday makers than long term tenants, and they’re following the money.

In the Daylesford area, north-west of Melbourne, there are just 25 long-term rentals available, compared to more than 1000 short-term rentals.

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Airbnb and other platforms like it have largely taken over, passing over people looking for a home.

Researcher Karl Fitzgerald said the platforms must be restricted and property owners should need a licence to run an Airbnb.

His research shows net returns are now as much as 81 per cent higher in the short-term rental market than long-term rental market.

“We feel if we pull the market down by 25 per cent, that would open up some rental supply, there’d be less mums sleeping in their cars, there’d be less old folks living in a dingy garage,” Fitzgerald said.

In areas all around the country, including the Hepburn Shire, Mornington Peninsula, Byron Bay, Fremantle, Victor Harbor, Hobart, Noosa Heads, Coolum Beach, Port Douglas, the Whitsundays, Warburton, and Apollo Bay, the returns are so lucrative that three quarters of new homes are offered straight to holidaymakers.

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The Real Estate Institute of Australia also supports a licence system.

“It is only going to continue over time,” president Leanne Pilkington said.

“It is a problem … it is exacerbating the rental crisis that we’re seeing played out across the entire country.”

It’s not just the holiday hotspots. Two two-bedroom apartments in Canterbury in Sydney are close to one another.

However on Domain one is listed for $650 a week in rent while the other on Airbnb is advertised as $1555.

At that price the second owner would only need to book the apartment for 40 per cent of the year to come out on top of the other owner.

The owners also get more flexibility and better returns, so the market is making the choice for them. But with the national rental market in crisis many are calling for intervention.

Airbnb declined to be interviewed but rejected the research, saying there was no evidence that limits work to balance long-term supply.

Instead it recommends a new 5 per cent levy paid by users.

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