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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Airbnb is a problem in his own electorate – Sydney’s inner-west - where there is a short supply of rental properties. Victoria’s Daniel Andrews says “Airbnb is an issue. In my electorate, it’s an issue because you have problems of accessing rentals for people…” Last week the Sydney Morning Herald revealed a plan to introduce a statewide levy on short-stay accommodation in Victoria. This news was issued without any consultation with Victoria’s most important stakeholder, We Live Heremovement. Brief, any State tax on the likes of Airbnb and Stayz legitimises the use of housing for commercial purposes, delivers a small amount of revenue to State coffers, and puts in place multiple levels of legislation that, certainly in the example of New South Wales, is simply not enforced.

Michael Crosby, Airbnb Australia and New Zealand’s head of public policy told the ABC: “Airbnb supports "opt-in tourism levies", where a guest would be charged a small fee at the time of booking, which would contribute towards housing projects and local infrastructure.” Of course, any tourism levy is paid by platform users – not Airbnb. And, critically, such a levy ensures government blessing on the use of all homes as tourist rentals.”

Eacham Curry, Senior director of government and corporate affairs for Expedia/Stayz told 3AWMelbourne: “Research has found short-term stays have little impact on the market…we’re neither the cause or the solution to the problem of housing availability or affordability.”

In a closed social media post, former founding Board Member of the Australian Short-Term Rental Association (ASTRA) Pete Smith told Airbnb (g)hosts: “Danger is coming folks. If you want to save your business make sure (you) join your Industry Association ASTRA who have engaged lobbyists, are speaking to Governments and are ready to tackle the narrative that we are the problem and killing our businesses are the solution to the rental crisis. This is serious folks and we need to be strong together to combat the people coming for our industry and our businesses...” Smith’s company, Weekenda, currently lists 218 homes as STRs. Smith will be one of many featured speakers at ASTRA’s ‘HERE TO STAY’ conference 9-10 Oct.

According to InsideAirbnb, in New York City, Airbnb short-term listings dropped by 70% after enforcement of the city’s new Registration Law. In August there were 22,434 STRs. Come 5 September, when the new legislation took effect, numbers dropped by 15,593 (70%). Most of Airbnb’s rentals were converted into long-term rentals (-4,000 were deactivated). Long-Term rentals numbered 21,132 in August and grew overnight to 32,612 on 5 September - an increase of 11,480 homes (or 54%). Data reveals that 83% of New York City Airbnbs are not long-term rentals. Out of the remaining STRs on Airbnb’s platform, there was an approximate 50/50 split between entire home listings (3,401) and private rooms (3,256). Entire-homes can only be short-term rented in Class B dwellings (hotels), so many of these may still be illegal. There is little evidence that the remaining STRs are registered. Airbnb has not enabled their registration number field, contrary to other cities, and InsideAirbnb could find only 28 short-term rentals on the Airbnb platform that mention an OSE-STR registration or application number in their description.

This is an excellent result for New York City authorities and residents. Overnight thousands of presumed illegal Airbnb properties have been converted to long-term rentals or removed from Airbnb’s platform. Locals are looking forward to seeing how the new registration laws play out over the next few months as more data comes to light. (See chart/maps at top of post.)

To summarise: Property owners are barred from renting out a whole apartment or home to short-term clients staying for fewer than 30 days. They are to rent only to people sharing their space, while the owner/s is/are in-house. A maximum of two clients at any time. Hotels and accredited, commercial serviced apartments are not affected by New York City’s Local Law 18. Tips/Warnings from New York City Authorities can be found HERE.

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So, no more talk from our Legislators of levies on Airbnb rentals. The New York City example, which is now being replicated by other global jurisdictions, effectively blows to pieces the argument that short-term holiday rentals cannot/must not be banned and will not see landlords convert their properties back into long-term residential rentals.


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