Some Sydney apartments being bought just for Airbnb, MP claims
New apartments are being bought in Sydney purely for letting via online holiday rental agencies such as Airbnb, rather than as residential homes, a NSW Liberal MP has claimed.
Strata owners should be able to ban holiday lets from their buildings, said Damien Tudehope, the member for Epping.
Some apartments are being bought just for Airbnb, an MP has claimed. Photo: Michele Mossop
Mr Tudehope said in a speech in Parliament last week that "anecdotally there are now residential properties being built in Sydney's most sought-after suburbs solely for the purpose of servicing tourists through the Airbnb market rather than being offered as a home."
However, evidence for this claim appears to be thin on the ground and, when questioned by Fairfax Media, Mr Tudehope explained he had not intended to suggest entire unit blocks were being purpose-built for Airbnb lets.
Instead, he said, constituents had told him that empty properties in Epping were "not going to the residential rental market but rather the Airbnb market."
Mr Tudehope said that, as a result of the potential higher returns of short-term stays, people were changing the way they saw residential property.
In his speech to parliament, Mr Tudehope said short-stay holiday letting was an even bigger concern for residential tenants than it was for hotels, motels and guesthouses, despite complaints that online letting agencies were "offering a comparable product … without the applicable regulatory controls"."It is not unreasonable to conclude that potential homes are now being purchased with commercial [Airbnb] purposes in mind," he told Fairfax Media.
NSW MP Damien Tudehope says strata owners should be able to ban holiday lets from their buildings. Photo: Peter Rae
Mr Tudehope disclosed that his brother Peter is the head of Tourism Accommodation Australia, but insisted his main concern was the effect holiday letting was having on supply in the residential market. He said the short-stay rental industry needed a regulatory framework if full-time tenants weren't to suffer.
"It is estimated that approximately 38 per cent of the Airbnb market is shared accommodation such as when the property owner has a spare room," he explained.
"So 62 per cent of that market is by way of commercial rentals when the whole of the property is made available."
Mr Tudehope added that short-term commercial-residential accommodation was now impacting on the supply as well as the availability of homes.
"When housing supply is a significant challenge in Sydney, this is an alarming trend which we should not ignore."
Mr Tudehope canvassed a number of possible restrictions on holiday lets in apartment blocks.
"There may be merit in allowing strata bodies to include a by-law whereby residents must all agree that commercial-residential accommodation is permitted in the building otherwise it will be excluded," he said.
"We might also consider clarifying the difference between a property primarily used as a home in which spare rooms are occasionally rented out and a property which is listed as residential but is used predominantly for commercial purposes."
Mr Tudehope said he was a supporter of "emerging business models" and had happily used both Uber and Airbnb.
"My experience recently in travelling to Europe and using Airbnb accommodation was enormously successful and trouble free," he said, but he was concerned about its impact in Australia.
Responding to the original statement about properties being built specifically to go on Airbnb, a spokesman for the online letting agency said: "We're not aware of any such thing occurring, but we look forward to continuing to work with all members of parliament toward clearer, fairer home sharing rules for New South Wales."
Jimmy Thomson writes the Flat Chat column in The Sydney Morning Herald and edits the advice website flat-chat.com.au.