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Regulating Airbnb

14 October 2022

Everyday Queenslanders right across the state are crying out for affordable homes while property investors are turning what could be good, secure homes into Airbnbs for tourists. Instead of houses and apartments being used as homes for families—a place to raise your kids, a place to rest and relax—tens of thousands of Queensland properties are being turned into short-term hotels. We know this is especially impacting struggling coastal communities, where locals cannot find places to live and workers have to leave the tourism industry because nearly all of the properties in their town have been turned into short-term accommodation. We are seeing ordinary Queenslanders kicked out of their homes in the middle of a housing crisis because investors would rather make a quick buck on Airbnb.

In South Brisbane recently, a constituent contacted me after they discovered that all the long-term residents in their apartment block were being kicked out so that the owner could turn the whole block into Airbnb accommodation to make thousands more than they would providing long-term homes to families and workers. What is currently a local community for long-term residents will instead become a profit-making hotel, and all those residents in a few months' time will be out looking for homes in a cut-throat rental market. Every long-term home that becomes an Airbnb is one less nurse living close to the hospital they work in, one less volunteer at the local footy club, one more child whose life is uprooted as their family have to move home and find a new school. We have seen local governments across Queensland try to tackle short-term stays, but this will be pointless if the state government does not step in as well.

In New South Wales, the conservative state government implemented an 180-day limit across the state, while Byron Shire Council, working with the state government, have implemented their own 90-day limit. A similar limit here in Queensland would be a significant step to easing the housing the crisis. According to data from AirDNA, a cap on short-term hotels could open up nearly 6,000 homes across the Sunshine Coast, nearly 6,000 on the Gold Coast and 5,000 in Greater Brisbane.

The state government says they are worried about rental supply. Limiting Airbnbs and making sure homes are used for families, not tourists, is a straightforward way to boost rental supply across the state. For everyday owner-occupiers, a cap means you can still put your house up on Airbnb if you go on holidays or if you are letting out your spare room. However, a cap would stop those property investors who would rather turn a unit block into short-term accommodation than house families.

This government has to decide whether they want our cities and towns to be places where people can raise their kids, where you can live close to where you work and study, or if the government wants our cities, towns and neighbourhoods to become yet another play thing for wealthy tourists and Airbnb landlords.

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