Private short term rentals such as Airbnbs are proving big money spinners for locals. New figures have shown just how much they make and how often they are rented out. It has sparked fresh debate about whether Airbnbs have taken away homes from the rental pool and contributed to our housing crisis as well as whether they should be charged similar commercial fees like other accommodation providers, such as motels and hotels. Reporter Zoe Hunter looks into the issue and chats to a couple than owned an Airbnb about how they manage their small business.
Tauranga residents pocketed $33.5 million renting out their properties on sites such as Airbnb in the 11 months to May 2019, new data shows.
But local business leaders are blaming such sites for taking homes away from the rental market and say they should be charged the same commercial fees as traditional accommodation providers.
According to AirDna, which collects data from both Airbnb and HomeAway, there are 955 entire homes - of which 543 have bookings - and 403 private rooms listed in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
The total revenue made by Tauranga hosts before cleaning, maintenance, tax and furnishing costs was $33.5m from June 2018 to May 2019.
Airbnb said listings were a small part of the housing market and made a big contribution to the local economy.
But Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said short-term listings on Airbnb meant there were more than 1000 homes or rooms that families could not rent full-time.
"This marked drop in houses for rent has pushed up family rents markedly and driven many people out of their homes," he said.
Sciascia said landlords were now capitalising on the financial advantage by moving houses from the traditional rental pool to the short-term Airbnb market, which should be treated as a business.
"They are only charged domestic rates and are not charged the commercial fees that traditional accommodation providers such as motels and hotels are forced to pay," he said.
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Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said measures such as charging commercial rates needed to be put in place to help mitigate the significant effect Airbnb was having on the rental market.
"While it's a great product and a benefit to those owning homes, the potentially negative social consequences can't be ignored," he said.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said while there were benefits for homeowners, buying houses to run a permanent Airbnb business was an abuse of goodwill.
"It shouldn't be abused when other fulltime businesses have to play with a different set of rules. Everyone wants an even playing field," he said.
Tauranga City Council general manager of corporate services Paul Davidson said the council was aware of many properties around the city being rented out through Airbnb.
"The most appropriate way to address the issue of setting rates on short-term accommodation is planned to be discussed as part of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan," he said.
Bayleys and Eves Realty chief operating officer Heath Young said Airbnb assisted the shortfall of motels, hotels and short term accommodation for visitors to the region.
Anchor AIMS Games tournament director Vicki Semple said Airbnb was one of many accommodation choices used to house the thousands of children who visit Tauranga for the annual event.
An AirDna spokeswoman said depending on demand, many listings sat idly without accepting a booking, and therefore could not be compared with long-term rentals.
She said although many local authorities were concerned about the growth of holiday homes, the numbers cited were almost always inflated.
"This rise in demand of vacation homes in the area suggests that hotels are lagging in providing accommodation to travellers visiting the area, and platforms like Airbnb are filling this gap."
An Airbnb spokesman said listings booked for more than six months of the year represented just 0.11 per cent of the housing market.
"Put simply, holding a tenth of 1 per cent of the housing market isn't credible and more seriously distracts from the bigger issues."
Richard and Sheila Logan rented out their four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Hairini on and off for about a year.
"It was brilliant," Sheila said.
The Tauranga Airbnb super hosts rented their home to as few as one person and up to as many as six people at a time with guests staying an average of two nights.
Apart from some minor trouble with naughty children and guests smoking in their smoke-free home, the couple said they loved being Airbnb hosts.
"We made friends with people who stayed with us," Sheila said.
"It was good company... people are looking to engage with local Kiwis. About 75 per cent of people who stayed with us were from overseas," Richard said.
"A lot of people are enhanced by the experience. It is not just about making a profit."
Tauranga Airbnb and HomeAway/Stayz listings
- 955 entire homes
- 643 entire homes booked
- 403 private rooms
Western Bay of Plenty Airbnb and HomeAway/Stayz listings
- 478 entire homes
- 314 entire homes booked
- 124 private rooms
Note: The numbers of Airbnb listings are for both Airbnb and HomeAway sites and could be duplicated. Entire home listings include any self-contained space from a small flat to a person's home they are sharing while away, or a room in a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast.