Is Airbnb Restricting The Supply Of Sydney Apartments?

14 March 2017
One NSW Liberal MP has made the claim that Sydney apartments are being bought up solely for the purpose of renting them out via Airbnb.

Member for Epping Damien Tudehope made a speech to the NSW Parliament last week, part of which was spent claiming that residential properties in sought-after Sydney suburbs are being bought “solely for the purpose of servicing tourists”.

He suggested that to combat this supposed issue, strata owners should be given the right to ban holiday lets from their buildings.

He prefaced his claims by describing them as anecdotal. When asked for clarification by Fairfax Media, Mr Tudehope said his statements were based on the fact that constituents his had told him that vacant properties in his electorate were “not going to the residential market but rather the Airbnb market”.

He defended his remarks by telling Fairfax Media, “It is not unreasonable to conclude that potential homes are now being purchased with commercial (Airbnb) purposes in mind.”

‘An alarming trend we should not ignore’

Mr Tudehope’s speech to Parliament also flagged concerns for residential tenants, as he said short-stay holiday letting was more of an issue for them than it was for hotels, motels, and guesthouses.

Mr Tudehope did disclose that his brother, Peter Tudehope, is the head of Tourism Accommodation Australia. However, he stressed that his statements stem from a concern regarding supply in the residential housing market, and that regulation for the short-stay rental industry was needed to avoid negative repercussions for full-time tenants.

“It is estimated that approximately 38% of the Airbnb market is shared accommodation, such as when the property owner has a spare room,” Mr Tudehope told Fairfax.

“So 62% of that market is by way of commercial rentals when the whole of the property is made available.

“When housing supply is a significant challenge in Sydney, this is an alarming trend which we should not ignore.”

Expanding on his remarks about the short-stay rental industry needing regulation, Mr Tudehope offered a number of potential ideas for restricting the supposed issue, including:

  • Allowing strata bodies to include a by-law where all residents would have to agree that commercial-residential accommodation is allowed in their building. If unanimous approval was not reached, it would not be allowed.
  • Clarifying the difference between “a property primarily used as a home, in which spare rooms are occasionally rented out, and a property which [sic] is listed as residential but is used predominantly for commercial purposes”.

Mr Tudehope did, however, stress that he was a fan of sharing economy standouts such as Uber and Airbnb, and had used both while travelling in Europe. But he expressed concerns about their potential impact in Australia.

A spokesperson for Airbnb responded to the claims made by Mr Tudehope by saying, “We’re not aware of any such thing occurring, but we look forward to continuing to work with all members of parliament towards clearer, fairer, home sharing rules for New South Wales.”

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