Airbnb isn’t significantly impacting rental prices in Sydney, states a new report from the Tenants’ Union of NSW, a not-for-profit, independent advisory service for renters.
Entitled Belonging Anywhere: Airbnb and renting in Sydney, the Tenants’ Union has called on the NSW government, which plans to regulate short-term letting, to restrict short-term lets that total more than 60 nights per year. The union said tenants should also be allowed the same rights and privileges as owner-occupiers to lease rooms or their entire homes for short periods.
“Now is a good time to introduce a sensible regulatory regime which balances a reasonable use of short-term lets with the potential impact of tourists on our communities,” said Leo Patterson Ross, advocacy and research officer at Tenants’ Union of NSW.
The report alleges that Sydney’s already-high rental rates, and the relative ease at which landlords can evict tenants and jack up rents, makes the switch to holidays lets not worth the effort for many landlords.
“Australia has some of the weakest tenancy laws in the world, with landlords facing little to constrain their ability to maximise rents and capital gains, and directly subsidised by government in a number of ways,” said the report. “A landlord in Sydney may not perceive the same benefit in removing the property from the private rental sector in order to utilise Airbnb as would a landlord in … other areas.”
Ross, who co-authored the report with other analysts, said Airbnb was not increasing the rent tenants have to pay, and instead identified landlords as the culprit. “The way some landlords use Airbnb is a symptom of a broken housing system, not the cause of it.”
The report’s authors said they don’t believe renting properties on Airbnb or similar sites for a few nights was having a meaningful impact on housing supply. However, the Tenants’ Union is concerned that the increasing use of Airbnb could encourage landlords in suburbs frequented by tourists to move tenants during the summer season in order to make more money.
The report is based on figures up to September 2016 from the data scraping website AirDNA, and to a lesser extent, Inside Airbnb. The report also analysed government data on private rental rates and bonds, as well as occupancy rates and housing projections.
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