Airbnb Contributes To Rental Scarcity But More Housing Is Needed

Debbie Petlueng wants short-term rental homes back in the long-term market. (Supplied)


DEBBIE Petlueng is a homelessness advocate on behalf of Business Professional Women (BPW) Coffs Harbour.

“It’s a passion of mine to help address homelessness,” she said.

Debbie is not just talking about people who live on the streets, but the growing number of people in Coffs Harbour who can afford to rent but simply cannot find a vacant house or apartment.

According to Ms. Petlueng, the rental vacancy rate was 3% in April, which is ‘normal’ but has recently reduced to around 0.8%.

There are a number of reasons for the shortage, including that a significant number of people have returned to the Coffs Coast from large cities to move back into homes that had been rented out, rental properties being sold to become homes, and more people moving to the area and wanting to rent.

Currently, there are up to 30 applications for each rental property.

There is no short-term fix, but Ms. Petlueng points out that, in Coffs Harbour, there are almost 60 whole properties listed on Airbnb.

She suggests that if the number of days these whole properties can be let short term is limited, then it is possible that the pool of rental properties will increase.

Current rules in NSW allow for Councils to limit Airbnb rentals to 180 days ‘if the host is not present’.

Other places around the world have more strongly regulated Airbnb with respect to whole house rental, such as Los Angeles with a 120-day limit, and only if the property is your permanent residence, Amsterdam with a 30-night limit and South Carolina where the host must live in the property before renting it out.

Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh, said that the current situation affects younger people in particular.

“This is a result of not building enough homes during the past three decades,” he said.

“The member for Oxley and I will get relevant people together to look at short, medium and long-term strategies by the end of November.”

He said that solutions include making more land available for housing and said that land inside the bypass at Woolgoolga and other land at Moonee are possibilities.

Mr Singh acknowledged Ms. Petlueng’s suggestion, but said, “With respect to Airbnb, we need to be careful that we don’t create more problems”.

He said the rental situation was a complex issue that required a complex response but that immediate action was needed.

Ms Petlueng said she understands that landlords have the right to rent their properties as they wish, but that Airbnb should be held to the same standards as hotels and motels.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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