Airbnb has revealed the numbers of hosts it has in Auckland - and the income they generate from its service - for the first time.
In figures supplied exclusively to the Herald, the company says it has 11,300 active listing in Auckland (see table below).
In 2018, the typical host rented their home out for 33 nights, generating $4760 income (those are median numbers, so half would have been above and half below).
Airbnb's numbers indicate even fewer hosts are paying the council's new targeted rate or "bed tax" than it thinks.
Earlier this month, the council estimated there were 8300 Airbnb properties in Auckland, with 3800 liable for the bed tax (hosts are exempt if they rent out their property for fewer than 28 days per year).
This morning it said it had only been able to track down and charge 1285 liable properties - or about one in three of its estimate. The Airbnb figures revealed today indicate the number of liable hosts currently escaping the bed tax is probably closer to one in five.
The council thought 800 Airbnb hosts had their properties booked for at least half the year, making them liable for full commercial rates and the full weight of the bed tax. But as of today, only 157 had come forward or been identified by the council.
Airbnb has refused to provide information directly to the council on privacy grounds. That makes life difficult for the council team trawling through Airbnb listings. It's relatively easy to see who's got a property listed, but monitoring the number of nights booked is trickier.
The APTR or "bed tax" kicked in from August for Airbnb properties, and those listed on rivals such as Bookabach, which claims thousands of properties in the city - although many also are also listed on Airbnb. Motels and hotels have been paying the tax since 2017.
Airbnb stats for Auckland in 2018
• Active Listings: 11,300
• Median income: $4760
• Total income: $58.6m
• Inbound guest arrivals: 308,600
• Outbound guest arrivals: 436,000
• Median nights hosted: 33
Airbnb hosts tracked and charged by Auckland Council, by nights booked 2018
• 180 nights or more: 157
• 136-180 nights: 73
• 29-135 nights: 528
• 29 nights or fewer: 527
• Total: 1285
Source: Auckland Council
Airbnb says it enjoyed a 94% year-on-year growth in the number of outbound guest arrivals and 114% year-on-year growth in the number of inbound guest arrivals last year.
However, comments by Airbnb hosts to the Herald indicate there will be a delayed effect.
Waiheke Island resident Phil McNally, who lets a sleepout behind his $1.8m home, told the Herald his rates bill on had shot from $4191 to $13,628 (an amount he is appealing).
McNally says renting his self-contained unit to tourists is no longer economically viable, though he feels obliged to honour months worth of forward bookings.
This morning, an Airbnb spokesman conceded his company would take a hit from the bed tax, but maintained the damage was limited.
"Anecdotally we have had feedback from some hosts that the targeted rate will stop them from home sharing but overall host numbers have remained steady to date and it is still too early to get a true picture of the situation," he said.
A double-whammy arrangement sees Airbnb hosts now charged business rates (which are higher than residential rates) if they let their home for more than 28 days a year, plus - in many cases - the new bed tax, or Accommodation Provider Targeted Rate (APTR) as it's officially known.
Working out the exact amount per property will keep the bean counters busy.
It depends on the value of a property, the number of guest nights over the financial year, plus the location of a property, with the city divided into three zones, with those in the CBD and inner suburbs (Zone A) paying more than those in out suburbs (Zone B) or far-flung areas (Zone C). A self-contained unit on a property is taxable, but a letted out room is not - but there have been arguments over what constitutes a self-contained area of a property.
For the bed tax, the council gives the example of a million-dollar home (that is, just a touch over the average selling price for a three-bedroom home in Auckland).
Its owner would be hit by a $1623 bed tax if they were in zone A and had their property booked for 29 nights - and up to $6771 it was booked out for half the year or more.
Earlier this month, Tourism Industry Association Chris Roberts said it was "quite astonishing" how few Airbnb hosts were now paying full rates.
Roberts was worried that if the council continued to capture only a "tiny percentage" of private accommodation hosts then motels and hotels might have to make up the difference.