Housing crisis

Short-term rental operators call for national regulation amid housing crisis

Short-term rental operators have called for national regulation of their own industry to be part of the solution to Australia’s rental crisis.

The industry has been accused of worsening the shortage of long-term rental accommodation and the Australian Short Term Accommodation Association (ASTRA) admits it is feeling the “heat”.

“Absolutely, there is a problem that needs to be solved, council director Yoav Tourel said.

“We need to work with the government to see how we can help with that.

“The correlation between the heat the industry receives and its true impact is quite different.”

More than 250 short-term rental providers gathered on the Gold Coast this week to develop a survival strategy for the industry and explore how they could help solve the housing crisis.

“We think there has to be a balance,” Tourel said.

“There needs to be the right regulations in place that allow businesses to continue to thrive and operate within their communities and ideally this should be done at the federal level.”

Displaced long-term tenants

Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning Peter Phibbs was encouraged by ASTRA’s stance on regulation, but felt that control should remain with national and local jurisdictions.

“A state government approach is more helpful for both sides of the issue,” he said.

“When you have state legislation, you need to have the ability to moderate the approach based on local council circumstances.”

Housing researcher Peter Phibbs says local governments need flexibility.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Professor Phibbs admitted this approach could be difficult for the short-term rental industry, but said it was necessary to protect local communities.

“In some places there are so many, it’s causing problems for the long-term rental market,” he said.

“The economic returns are so lucrative they displace long-term tenants – we’ve really seen that in parts of regional Australia.”

Analysis by international data firm AirDNA suggested that short-term rental supply had fallen in Australia’s two main capital cities before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The loss of supply has been most dramatic in major cities like Melbourne, which is down 33% and Sydney down 58% since 2019,” AirDNA spokeswoman Madeleine Parker said.

Different rules

Rules governing the industry differ from state to state and local council to local council, with some introducing caps on nights to rent or encouraging neighbors to use short-term accommodation providers term.

A large house is nestled on a green hill under a blue sky.
Byron Bay Shire in NSW wants to limit non-hosted short-term rentals to 90 days a year.(PM: Simon Santow)

In New South Wales, the Byron Shire Council is consulting with residents on reducing the current statewide limit of 180 days for non-hosted accommodation to 90 days.

Hobart City Council has banned new short-term whole-house accommodation in the city center and Brisbane City Council has created a new rate category for short-term accommodation, increasing rates by 50%.

In Western Australia, Broome homeowners who plan to rent their home through an online platform must register with the council.

“Brewing for a long time”

Charities across Australia are reporting unprecedented levels of demand for their services due to a shortage of available rental accommodation.

A homeless man is seen asleep in a sleeping bag on a footpath.
Charities across Australia are reporting increased demand for their services as the country grapples with a shortage of rental housing.(ABC News: Stephanie Anderson)

The charity Housing All Australians published the Give me Shelter report in June.

It concluded that the cost to Australia of not providing enough public, social and affordable housing would be an additional $25 billion a year by 2051.

Founder Robert Pradolin said the heat the short-term rental industry was receiving was just a reaction to a crisis.

“It had been brewing for a long time,” he said.

“The short-term policy is: ‘Let’s put pressure on the short-term rental market, because we need it for the long-term rental market.’

“What about the heart of the matter, which is how do we increase supply to put downward pressure on prices and allow us to function as a normal society?”

Mr Pradolin said the blame game was pointless and wanted all levels of government to focus on long-term strategies.

A woman with blonde hair and a white shirt with lemon prints sits next to a bowl of lemons and a yellow drink.
Rebecca Cribbin, founder of Holiday Rental Specialists, says many operators in her industry believe the future is uncertain.(Provided: Rebecca Cribbin)

Lack of security

Holiday Rental Specialists founder Rebecca Cribbin, whose company manages 350 short-term operators in New South Wales, said those in the short-term rental sector did not feel safe.

“We need to act quickly,” she said.

“I wish time was not wasted from a national perspective and money was not wasted where each state has the power to govern and regulate.”

She called on the federal parliament to look into the matter within the next two years.

“Building a real strong foundation of regulation and legislation so that we all know what we are doing, how we are doing it,” she said.

“We can then provide hundreds of thousands of Australian families with a place to go on vacation.”