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Following the Australian Tax Office’s 2018 announcement of a review of online rentals, last week Airbnb ‘defended’ its decision to hand over the data of 190,00 property owners and landlords to the ATO. Brent Thomas from Airbnb is quoted as saying: “Airbnb is committed to making it as easy as possible for our hosts to pay their taxes, along with making it easier for the ATO to do their job.”

“[Airbnb] remains supportive of implementing a data sharing framework…”

With exactly these comments in mind, we are asking that Brent Thomas and Airbnb clearly demonstrate ‘a commitment to making it as easy as possible for Local Government Authorities to do their job’, and hand over data to Councils across Australia.

Quirin Schwaighofer, co-owner of Airbnb management operator ‘MadeComfy’, with 239 listings, said he was “not concerned by the provision of data…”

In an email to Members, the Accommodation Association of Australia’s CEO Dean Long wrote:

“(AAoA) and the accommodation industry have been long term advocates that the Australian Tax Office strengthens its efforts to ensure that those operators who generate an income from listing a room or property on sharing platforms, such as AirBNB, must pay their fair share of tax.

We are already seeing through our market performance data, that the economic softening that is occurring throughout the economy is having a direct impact on the prices we are able to charge and subsequently impacts the tens of thousands of people we employee (sic). With the ATO forcing the sharing of data held by AirBnB it will ensure those people, that have not been paying tax for the last 10 years on this income, are having the spotlight turned on them.”

Airbnb landlords are suggesting online that the ATO’s measures will see them ‘charging more’ for their properties; might this mean they are currently avoiding the payment of tax?

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported on the disappearance of backpackers from Sydney’s Kings Cross, quoting: “The industry is definitely having a tough time, and this year has been the worst we’ve every had.” And, “Airbnb has also sucked the life out of the industry… Airbnb has led to others finding it cheaper to rent a small apartment and packing in four people rather than going to a hostel…”

Last weekend rocks were thrown at police when an out-of-control Airbnb party in Perth spiralled into a 200+ person drunken brawl at a ‘cosy little house situated in a quiet residential area’. Elsewhere, the Financial Review is highlighting Airbnb commercial operators spruiking how to get around rules and legislation. And south of the border, another short-term rental operator has declared bankruptcy, leaving holiday plans wrecked. In Auckland, residents are “at their wits’ end with a landlord they say “doesn’t care” who he rents to – after a third destructive party in weeks”.

A Singapore-based absent landlord has asked Airbnb ‘hosts’ in Australia how to handle neighbours who seem to continually complain about her clients’ behaviour. Hilde Swendgaard (Loftus Street Bundeena - and reportedly manages Simpson Road Bundeena) shared her advice via social media:

“(I) think you should move in for a month and play Iggy Pop’s Raw Power on loop at loud volume, making sure you are within the law regarding timing etc. They’ll have a heart attack and be very glad to have your guests back. I did this once with a flatmate, years ago. It worked. She moved.”

Julie in Singapore replied: “Funny you should mention as we live internationally now but moving back to Australia in January and will be living in our Airbnb for 3 months or so. We will be more noisy than any guest he has complained about!!! Maybe he will be grateful after we have lived there for a while.”

Airbnb: No holiday for neighbouring residents or for those trying to make a lawful living in the accommodation sector.

Homes not Hotels People before Profits Neighbours not Strangers

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