Home-sharing website Airbnb has slammed recent criticism, saying blaming them for lack of housing affordability in areas like the Illawarra “is as absurd as blaming smashed avocados”.
Short-term rental accommodation (STRA) provider Stayz recently released a report indicating that in the Illawarra/South Coast region, short-term rental accommodation generated more than $266.8 million in economic uplift and supported up to 1778 jobs in 2016.
In April, the state government announced it would impose new rules on property owners who let out spare rooms or entire homes, but had yet to finalise the details of the regulatory changes.
The Neighbours Not Strangers group have criticised platforms such as Airbnb when they push homes away from residential use and into short-term lets.
They believe share accommodation providers can have an adverse impact on housing supply, as well as rental and housing affordability.
“Although there are claims (STRA) is great because it brings tourists into areas like the Illawarra… (In many commissioned reports) there are no negatives applied to the effects of removing housing from our housing stock,” convenor Trish Burt told the Mercury last week.
However, Brent Thomas, head of Public Policy ANZ at Airbnb hit back at these claims, saying “they simply aren’t backed up by the facts”.
“Airbnb is an economic lifeline for everyday people in the Illawarra,” he said.
“It helps mums and dads, seniors and young families make a little more money to pay the mortgage or bills.
“Also, blaming Airbnb for housing affordability is as absurd as blaming smashed avocados - it just doesn’t stack up.”
According to Deloitte Access Economics figures, Airbnb’s top four destinations in NSW outside of the Sydney region are Byron Bay, Nowra, Newcastle and Wollongong.
Airbnb figures indicate they have more than 500 listings in the Illawarra as of July 1, 2017.
Mr Thomas cited independent research from both the Grattan Institute and the NSW Tenants’ Union that has reportedly found no material link between Airbnb and housing affordability.
“Housing policy is complex and any mature debate on housing affordability must consider a wide range of factors including population movements, housing supply and the tax system,” he said. “Airbnb is now a key pillar of the NSW economy… Our guests stay longer, spend more and spend their money in the local cafe or restaurant off the beaten track, spreading the benefits of the tourism boom.
“This is a blatant scare tactic aimed at robbing people of their right to share their own homes, and tourists the freedom to travel in a more diverse, creative way.”