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Seaside hotspot residents in Australia out-priced by Airbnb renters

Australia: Wealthy tourists could be forcing seaside hotspot residents out of their homes as Airbnb provides investors with healthy income streams.

The CEO of RiskWise Property Research, Doron Peleg, warned long-term renters were also being impacted in areas such as Byron Bay as they were unable to pay the same rates as short-term letters.

Peleg said: “In areas such as these, and particularly in beachside suburbs, we see the overall demand for properties by investors and owner-occupiers going up.”

This indicates part of a wider phenomenon as Byron Bay is not the first tourist destination to be affected by the prevalence of Airbnb rental properties.

In Barcelona, the city council has steadily grown the number of holiday-let inspectors after growing complaints that local residents were being priced out of their own neighbourhoods.

The council also fined Airbnb €600,000 in 2016 for listing unlicensed flats to rent.

Meanwhile, authorities in Berlin outlawed short-term rentals in 2016 and imposed heavy fines for hosts who violated it, but has since relaxed its stance.

Earlier this year, Airbnb reportedly removed up to 13,500 units of housing from New York City’s long-term rental market.

Closer to home in Australia, New South Wales introduced tough new laws limiting short-term rentals to an accumulative 180 nights a year in the Greater Sydney region.

New South Wales Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, said: “Under our ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy, hosts or guests who commit two serious breaches of the code within two years will be banned for five, and be listed on an exclusion register.

“These are the toughest laws in the country and will make sure residents are protected while ensuring that hosts who do the right thing are not penalised,” he added.

However, Airbnb has refused to accept responsibility for the impact it is deemed to have had on the communities, in Australia and around the world.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said last year: “The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back in.”

He added it was a question of fair and balanced regulation and Airbnb applauded the NSW laws announced earlier this year, describing them as a ‘watershed moment’.

Airbnb Australia country manager, Sam McDonagh, said: “With the cost-of-living painfully high, these fair and innovative rules will make it simple and easy for people and working families to share their own homes to make extra income. The rules will boost the NSW economy and be a welcome relief for the countless small, local businesses who rely on the Airbnb guest dollar.”

Peleg disagreed and said: “The effect it has on tourism destinations is extremely detrimental for local tenants and it also impacts hotels and other tourism accommodation in the area as they generally can’t compete.

“It has a sustained impact on the entire population and actually makes demographic changes. If the proportion of short-term stays is high it pushes families out, not just because they can’t afford to live there, but also because they don’t want to live next door to party houses,” he added.

He suggested Airbnb be limited to certain areas with oversupplies to help balance the market.

Peleg said: “In an ideal world, Airbnb would only be allowed in certain areas based on demographic, supply of properties and other considerations such as supporting the local economy.

“It must be balanced against the needs of the current residents as well as demand, and take housing affordability into account,” he added.