Never-before-seen data reveals the impact Airbnb has on the housing market in Victoria, showing that almost 50,000 entire dwellings are listed as short-stay rentals rather than available to long-term renters – making up 1.6 per cent of the state’s housing stock.
But holiday hot spots with smaller numbers of homes have higher proportions of short-stay rentals, with more than 10 per cent of the dwellings in the Surf Coast, Alpine and Hepburn local government areas listed on the tech platform. Melbourne’s CBD and the Mornington Peninsula had rates above 5 per cent.
The figures have been detailed in a new peer-reviewed report by consulting firm Urbis, which was asked to examine the impact of Airbnb on Australia’s housing market. The number of listings available on the platform has previously only been available through data collection websites and was based on figures from the end of 2022.
A separate discussion paper released on Friday by the Regional Australia Institute urged local councils to incentivise regional landlords to put their properties on the long-term rental market to address a housing shortage, rather than list them on short-stay sites.
In Victoria, Urbis found that “non-host” Airbnb rentals made up about 1.6 per cent of the state’s 3 million homes. This figure only measured listings in which the entire home was made available, rather than those where a single room was leased as part of a larger property.
The Urbis report found a “weak positive correlation” between the number of dwellings listed on Airbnb and areas where rental prices were being hiked or took up a high portion of people’s income.
“Overall, this analysis indicates that there are other factors that are driving housing affordability outcomes in Victoria, beyond the growth in the number of short-term rental accommodations properties,” the report says.
The state government in September last year announced a 7.5 per levy on short-stays as part of its plans to address the housing crisis, it promised to put the proceeds into social and affordable housing.
Then-premier Daniel Andrews said the levy was a “modest charge”. He said those homes put on Airbnb were “not available for someone to lease, to rent, on a longer-term basis. That’s a real thing”.
Airbnb’s country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Susan Wheeldon, said the figures showed the impact of the short-term rental sector on housing was minimal and “far more limited than suggested by some”.
“Airbnb welcomes collaboration with governments on sensible regulations for our sector, and this report demonstrates it’s about getting the balance right,” she said.
“Short-term rentals are not the root cause of the housing crisis and adopting the right approach to ensure hosting on Airbnb and the economic activity it creates makes communities stronger.”
Wheeldon said Airbnb wanted to partner with governments to regulate the sector, including through property registration schemes.
Airbnb has previously criticised the 7.5 per cent charge, arguing for it to be between 3 and 5 per cent.
Urbis also surveyed Airbnb hosts and found 67 per cent of respondents listed their homes to help deal with financial pressures, including paying for maintenance and repairs of the property or addressing the cost of living.
The Urbis report was peer-reviewed by planning expert Halvard Dalheim, who has worked as an executive officer in state government in both Victoria and NSW. He said the report’s conclusions were “logical” and “robust”.
A separate discussion paper released on Friday by the Regional Australia Institute showed the population of the nation’s regions had continued to grow by about 89,000 annually, with the median house price increasing by 54.2 per cent between March 2020 and December 2023.
However, it found the regional rental vacancy rate decreased from 1.5 per cent in September 2022 to 1.2 per cent at the same time last year.
The paper said the popularity of short-stay accommodation and vacant holiday homes was limiting the availability of rental homes in regional areas.
The institute is calling on regional councils to encourage owners to put their properties up for long-term rental rather than list them on short-stay accommodation platforms.
“Local governments can appeal directly to landlords of local vacant housing, to urge the redirection of this vacant housing onto the local long-term rental market,” it said. “This has been successful in some regions through local mailout campaigns.”
In 2022, the East Gippsland Shire was among those councils that wrote to residents asking them to put their properties on the rental market instead of short-stay platforms.
The institute also wants governments to develop a “suite of incentives” to encourage long-term rather than short-stay rentals, in addition to regulatory measures that would limit how long houses could be listed on sites such as Airbnb.
Some regional Victorian councils, including Warrnambool and Bass Coast, are now imposing annual fees on short-term accommodation providers amid rental shortages in their municipalities.
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