AirBnB is killing this town
December 16 2019
I know, I know, you’re a homeowner and you’re entitled to do what you want with said home. And in most municipalities that is an entirely fair statement.
What isn’t fair is the proliferation of AirBnB listings, and the flouting of local legislation regarding the volume said listing is allowed to be, well, listed. On a per capita basis, we have some of highest quantities of AirBnB’s listed, coupled with the highest quantities of entire houses listed. It is this situation that results in, significantly higher rental prices, and significantly higher housing prices, based off the higher yield the seller can show.
We have a finite number of dwellings available for the significant number in the working population, who are being readily displaced because the average homeowner can get a higher return from listing their house as a holiday let. Now I know local government has implemented rules regarding nightly volumes, but without a watch-dog in place to actually enforce this, what is actually stopping anyone? I personally know many people who aren’t abiding by these rules, and have been doing so for years. So now you’ve got a working population that has to pay higher rental prices, because those who haven’t holiday-let their dwellings can increase rental expectation of the supply and demand situation that is left in the rental pool available. This also impacts local businesses, who either cannot find staff - as people simply don’t want to pay the living costs (see all the job vacancy listings for proof) - or they have to add higher wages/training to ever increasing costs, that don’t necessarily couple with ever-increasing revenue. Finally you’ve got the houses themselves that consistently rank as the most expensive in the country. This is in part because the yield has been increased, so instead of a reasonable return on investment, some are netting obscene amounts - I’ve personally heard of return so high on an average dwelling that they should really be listed for GST. But really, no one is doing anything ‘wrong’, because they have all been technically allowed to do so. So in the end it’s not actually AirBnB hosts or the service itself that is the issue, it’s the local government and their apparent willingness to sit ideally by while it all happens. Maybe we did need AirBnB a few years ago because we were apparently terrified of being branded as ‘full’, but now that hotel developments have just about caught up, and visitor numbers have stabilized, is it not time to address this? We need to invest in our local economy by realising the significant social issues being exacerbated on a ‘make hay while the sun shines’ philosophy, and a quick fix for the mean time would be a crack-down on listing volumes and nights allowed. This would let rental prices exceed or match the return from holiday letting, and bring the market back to order. Yes, some who have extended themselves beyond their means based on AirBnB return would hurt, but surely that’s better than the whole town hurting?