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New Airbnb data highlights apartment owner-occupier concerns

Airbnb data highlights need for government leadership

strata manager owners corporation melbourneAlarming new data has heightened the concerns of apartment owner-occupiers across Melbourne with respect to Airbnb and other short-stay leasing in the Victorian capital.

As it stands, Owners Corporations are relatively powerless to make and enforce rules with respect to short-term leasing in their buildings.

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Even leading Strata lawyers have urged caution from Owners Corporations considering taking legal action to prohibit lot owners within their buildings from listing their properties on Airbnb and similar services.

The Victorian government continues to consider changes to the current short-stay accommodation bill, however the most recent proposals were slammed by owner-occupiers who felt they did not go far enough in giving their Owners Corporation’s powers to regulate short-term leasing in their buildings.

Airbnb has long claimed its main purpose is to provide families an avenue to profit from spare rooms in their homes, however new data has shown the vast majority if short-term leases in Melbourne are for entire homes – not just single rooms.

The new data, compiled by independent monitoring website Inside Airbnb which released its latest results earlier this month, shows that 12,474 of all Airbnb listings, just over 60 per cent of listings, in Melbourne are for the “entire home”.

The data also shows that there are 20,406 listings in Melbourne, over 40 per cent of which are from hosts with multiple listings.

The Inside Airbnb website says hosts with multiple listings, “are more likely to be running a business [and] are unlikely to be living in the property.”

The data will likely fuel the fire of several advocacy groups fighting for more power for Owners Corporations in regulating short-term leases in their property.

The problem is even more pressing in Sydney, where there are 32,830 available Airbnb listings.

The data has been dismissed by Airbnb’s Australian head of public policy Brent Thomas.

“Dodgy scraped data or the back-of-the-napkin analyses are grossly misleading and deeply inaccurate,” Mr Thomas told the ABC.

For apartment owner-occupiers, such as Docklands’ Chris Clark, the problem is all too real.

The Owners Corporation at his building has suggested that a third of all the apartments in his complex are short-stay rentals.

“That’s bringing people who are unvetted into the building. We had an incident in December where one of these subletting people had their apartment trashed and they wanted our security to throw them out,” Mr Clark told the ABC.

Strata Plan has heard similar concerns from our own committee members, one of whom last month expressed concern with the high turnover rate of people moving in and out of the building, damaging common property and leaving plenty of rubbish behind on their way out.

While the state government continues to work on law reforms, Strata lawyer Tom Bacon said the day-to-day struggle of apartment owner-occupiers had been going on for far too long.

“It is more of the day-in, day-out struggles that I see acting for owners corporations — it’s the disenfranchisement of these communities which is leading to a downward death spiral for community engagement,” Mr Bacon told the ABC.

“The way the sharing economy is going and technology is developing, it is a hard task for regulators to keep up, but … short-term letting and Airbnb and Stayz have been around for long enough now it’s time for governments to catch up,” Mr Bacon said.

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