Australia’s inner-city rental market is only going to worsen as short-stay landlords take houses out of the market to cater to tourists, warn resident rights advocates.
Lobby group We Live Here co-founder Marshall Delves said landlords are terminating leases or buying properties for the sole purpose of short-term renting to chase higher returns from short-term accommodation.
“It’s starting to filter into inner-city suburbs, [in parallel] with all the cafés flowing down [Melbourne’s] Brunswick Street,” he told The New Daily.
The signs of the growth are all around. University of New South Wales researcher Laura Cromelin, currently conducting a research report into Airbnb, has found short-stay rentals are highly concentrated in Australia’s capital cities.
She told The New Daily that analysis had found Airbnb accounted for 1 per cent of houses across Sydney, but that most are concentrated in just a few areas. She said this is likely the same in Melbourne.
“It’s often more of the entire property of Airbnb, which has a more significant impact,” she said.
She said Airbnb was likely making these areas more unaffordable and adding to the economic forces already forcing residents out.
The City of Yarra, which covers Melbourne’s hip inner-north, had at last count 1975 Airbnb listings, 64 per cent of which were for entire homes rather than just rooms.
The story was the same in Melbourne’s City of Port Phillip, the bayside area that includes tourist and backpacker hotspot St Kilda. It has 2635 listings, 73 per cent of which are entire homes.
The City of Sydney had 8124 listings, of which 63 per cent were for entire homes.That’s compared with Waverley – home to Bondi Beach – with its 5263 listings, 66 per cent of which are entire homes.
This all comes as rents across inner-city suburbs are up. The most recent CoreLogic figures reveal inner-city Melburnians pay an average of $550 a week, up 1.2 per cent from last year, while renters in Sydney’s inner-south pay $758, up 0.7 per cent.
CoreLogic’s head of research Cameron Kusher told The New Daily inner-city rental costs would grow as landlords chased higher returns in the short-term rental market.
Mr Kusher said the high cost of hotel accommodation was feeding the trend, which is being keenly felt as far afield as Hobart, where rental vacancy rates are at historic lows.
“People have realised that taking a property out of the long-term rental market and putting it into the short-term market, they can get a better return,” he said.
But Brent Thomas, Airbnb Australia/New Zealand’s head of public policy, completely rejected the assertion, telling The New Daily: “Expensive housing is not a new problem in Australia, particularly not the major capital cities like Sydney or Melbourne.
“It is an issue that has existed long before Airbnb and home-sharing arrived on the scene,” he said.
In a 2017 report by the Tenants Union of NSW, the body found Australia’s weak tenancy laws made it easier to run an Airbnb than would be the case in many other countries.
Although they found rental affordability had worsened in Sydney, they concluded Airbnb’s role couldn’t be proved.
But it did warn that that situation could change, if the government failed to act.