Brisbane residents are being asked to dob in properties they suspect are being used for short-term accommodation such as Airbnb.
The move comes three months after Brisbane City Council introduced a new rates category for short-term accommodation properties, hiking their rates by 50 per cent.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner on Tuesday announced residents would be sent a letter with their next rates bill, asking for information on local properties that were being used for short-term rentals via platforms such as Airbnb, Bookings.com, and Stayz.
“I’d be happy if this new rating category didn’t raise a single dollar,” Cr Schrinner said.
“Brisbane currently has a severe housing shortage because not enough homes are being built to meet demand.
“We want this new rating category to convince owners to return properties to the long-term rental market so they can be permanent homes.”
Owners of short-term rentals will also be encouraged to register their own properties on the council website.
Properties will fall under the new category if the entire home has been offered, available, or used as short-term accommodation for more than 60 days per year, but owners who rent out a single room are excluded.
The council estimates that the 50 per cent increase means the owner of a typical Brisbane home who uses it for short-term rentals will pay about $985 extra annually.
CoreLogic this week reported it was not yet clear if landlords were passing on the additional cost of rising interest rates to long-term renters, but Brisbane’s rental vacancy rate had crept up from record lows of 0.9 per cent earlier this year to 1 per cent in August.
Efforts to identify Airbnbs
The council’s finance spokeswoman, Councillor Fiona Cunningham, said it would take time to identify all of the eligible properties for the new rating category.
“We would prefer if people self-nominate, which occurs already when properties shift from being owner-occupied to rented,” Cr Cunningham said.
“However, through technology that’s available, Council can identify properties that have been listed on short-term accommodation websites for 60 days.
“This is about trying to push properties back into the private rental market while ensuring those that continue to be used on a short-term basis pay their fair share.”
In June, after the council’s rates hike was announced, Airbnb country manager for Australia and New Zealand Susan Wheeldon said the measure would hurt people who regularly booked Airbnbs for travel, work, or health.
“As Queenslanders face sharply rising costs of living and economic uncertainty, now is not the time for making sudden policy changes, without consultation, that will put significant strain on households across Brisbane,” she said at the time.
“Differential rates will place further financial pressure on everyday Queenslanders who share their homes to help make ends meet.”
Rental analytics company AirDNA estimated that in South Brisbane alone there were 358 available short-term rentals, almost all entire homes, and in Brisbane City about 321.
A three-bedroom house in Brisbane might be rented for upward of $500 a week, while a three-bedroom house on Airbnb might cost anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 per week.
But the new category is not retrospective, meaning homes that have been rented out before July are not included in the rate hike unless they have been rented out for the 60 days since the budget was delivered.
Article source: Queensland Property Investor