As cities around the world clamp down on houses going on short-term accommodation platforms like Airbnb, a Queenstown hotelier’s frustrated the local council’s not following suit.
‘‘Airbnb seems to make the rules and we don’t seem to be able to do anything about it,’’ The Rees Hotel chief executive Mark Rose says.
‘‘But everywhere else in the world seems to be doing something about it because it’s decimating the ability of local populations to be able to get a place to rent.’’
In the latest example, in New York City, under-30-day rentals are only allowed if hosts successfully register, take in no more than two guests at a time and are present for the duration of their stay.
The city adopted the stringent regulations in January last year but they only took effect last month after a court challenge by Airbnb failed.
According to the Bloomberg news service, many other cities in the United States are also cracking down on short-term rentals.
Cities want more rules because they claim unregulated short-term rentals reduce the availability of affordable housing, boost local rents and
create unnecessary risks for guests and neighbours, Bloomberg reports.
Rose has also found many examples of European cities trying to regulate Airbnb.
He can’t understand why Queenstown’s council isn’t doing likewise given the crippling shortage of long-term rentals.
‘‘I’ve got five staff sleeping in a room, and that is just outrageous.
‘‘If you want to rent a room out to somebody on Airbnb, I understand that completely, but it’s not right if you’ve got 10 houses [on Airbnb], you’re running a commercial enterprise, aren’t you?’’
It’s also ‘‘incredible’’, he says, how commercial accommodation has to put in fire sprinklers, and the like, whereas those rules don’t apply to Airbnb properties.
Over recent years, Queenstown’s council, in the words of former planning & development GM Tony Avery, ‘‘tried to significantly restrict the number of days houses could be used for residential visitor accommodation in a bid to improve the availability of housing for rent’’.
But, back in January, following mediation between the council and other parties, including Airbnb Australia Pty Ltd, an Environment Court order allowed homeowners to Airbnb their home for 90 days, as of right.
Mayor Glyn Lewers says if his council could regulate Airbnb ‘‘we would try, but the legislative framework doesn’t give us the same powers as the examples [Rose] raises overseas’’.
But those examples, where Airbnb’s been ruffling feathers, suggest to him ‘‘Airbnb are slowing losing their community licence to operate’’.
Lewers, however, says ‘‘there’s also the flip side — there’s a lot of families here that use Airbnb to supplement their income to pay the
So does he think the worker housing crisis is being exacerbated by properties listed on Airbnb?
‘‘In some areas, yes.’’
However, in some suburbs not serviced by public transport it’s less of an issue, he says.