Tenants listing spare rooms or entire flats on Airbnb and similar platforms may soon find themselves under much more scrutiny with the launch of software which monitors listings on multiple short-stay rental sites.
High profile short-stay rental site Airbnb is at the heart of this latest development, as friction between residents and the sharing economy in some of Australia’s most popular locations grows.
The new anti-Airbnb site BnbGuard monitors 12 long- and short-term rental websites and provides landlords and property owners with notifications if their property is found online.
The reason for this is that many landlords actively block tenants from subletting their properties via clauses inserted in their lease contracts.
Co-founder of BnbGuard, Richard Frey, told The New Daily BnbGuard was not about creating rules, but ensuring the rules were monitored.
“We provide all the information they need, the listing details, the details of the person,” he said.
We advise them to give a warning, the primary concern is not to get people in trouble, but to stop them from subleasing.”
But the issue continues to be at the fore, as many people have realised there’s money to be made subletting spare rooms, or the entire flat or house, when they’re not around.
Airbnb told The New Daily the average Aussie who rents on Airbnb stands to make $5600 a year.
“With more than one in three people now renting, any blanket bans or lockouts would discriminate against Australians who rent,” a spokesperson for Airbnb said.
“We strongly believe that everyone should have the right to share their own home, whether they are an owner or renter.”
UNSW Professor Chris Pettit told The New Daily that software like BnbGuard could go some way to putting checks and balances on technologies like Airbnb.
But he also said there was a ‘Big Brother’ issue in monitoring what people do with their own dwellings.
“There’s all sorts of unintended consequences if there is the ability to sublet on a large scale,” he said.
BnbGuard’s Richard Frey pointed to some of those unintended consequences, including out-of-control parties, increased wear and tear, property damage, security, pop-up brothels, and squatters.
Professor Pettit said short stay rental platforms have the potential to make rental affordability in high-demand areas even worse.
In Sydney’s Bondi, No.2 in Australia for Airbnb popularity, the impact can already be seen, while in Byron Bay, where affordability is now being acutely felt, 25 per cent of properties are on the short-stay rental market.
BnbGuard found Australia boasted 120,000 Airbnb listings, of which 42,000 were by tenants in those properties.
But BnbGuard’s Richard Frey isn’t about kicking out tenants, even if managers are hugely opposed to tenants subletting.
He said: “We leave it there, we don’t want to touch that area. We tell them to get legal advice.”
The issue has become so bad that Mornington Peninsula Shire Council proposed that owners who rent properties online should register properties with the council and abide by a code of conduct.
The rules include banning residents from swimming pools, spas, outdoor decking and balconies between 10pm and 8am or visitors in those same hours.
Mornington Peninsula is Australia’s third-most-popular location for Airbnb, according to BnbGuard.