The secret dangers of AirBnB

Growing anger over 'destructive' Airbnb as listings spike

CLAIMS that the online short-term rental market was all home-hosted was not particularly accurate according to Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington who wants to this sector regulated.

The mayor told the Wednesday night community meeting at the Noosa Lions Football Club gathered to address this hot topic, that Deloitte Access Economics reckoned 62 per cent of these short stay properties across Australia are not principal places of residence.

A man unhappy with Airbnb style accommodation in Noosa is Noosa River Village Resort manager Michael Garnham  (front) a row away from Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie at the lively meeting.
A man unhappy with Airbnb style accommodation in Noosa is Noosa River Village Resort manager Michael Garnham (front) a row away from Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie at the lively meeting. Peter Gardiner

He said Inside Airbnb claim these stays went up by 87 per cent in the last year and now represent 70 per cent of all the properties online short-term letting across Australia.

Cr Wellington said there were "serious benefits" to this sector, with Deloitte figuring in 2015-16 there were 343,000 Airbnb guests in Queensland alone generating $270 million in gross state product.

He said the council asked Bnb Guard, a local interest group, to gather some short stay statistics for Noosa about two weeks ago and the group looked at Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach, Sunrise Beach, Marcus Beach, Noosaville, Tewantin and Noosa North Shore.

The mayor said "they came up with 690 just in the Noosa Heads area" while there was a growth rate over the last two years from 200 per cent on Noosa North Shore and 480 per cent at Sunrise Beach.

"Airbnb properties have gone up generally around 400% across the shire in the last two years in terms of listings," Cr Wellington said.

The final Bnb Guard figure for these areas was 2120 and his guess was if you add in all Noosa areas "we're nudging 3000 properties in Noosa Shire".

"Rod Ritchie (of the Cooroy Area Residents Association) asked Airbnb only a few days ago how many (properties) they had in the Noosa Heads area and they said 1100," the mayor said.

"The tourism levy is not the main reason Noosa Council is trying to work out how to manage this sector. That is not our primary focus."

The mayor said the main concern was how to manage the impacts of "this destructive new sector" which is here to stay.

He said the council was getting a lot of complaints to do with neighbour amenity including noise from group stays who want to live it up as they park out the street.

Cr Wellington listed fire safety concerns and rubbish complaints with people filling up neighbours' rubbish bins, but said the growing problem was the disruption to the sense of community.

He said people have a sense of mistrust, fear for their personal safety and "feel alienated from the street they used to know everyone in".

The mayor spoke of the loss of permanent rentals, especially in the affordable range, that was impacting on Noosa's economy.

"We need people who can afford to live in Noosa who can work in those sectors.

"What's happening increasingly, they're being forced out of the area and having to drive in and with all the impacts that has. It is a long-term problem we're going to have to deal with."

Cr Wellington said this also put upward pressure on rental prices as the number of full-term properties disappear and he has been contacted by a landlord who found her tenant unit was not living there but had sub-let it on Airbnb.

"That is very common."

He said the council knows of a person in Tewantin who has sub-let a series of properties in this manor.

"We want to be able to track the properties (to uncover the short-term rentals)," Cr Wellington said.

He said Byron Bay Council was using private instigators to do that very thing but this was an expensive exercise.

Tourism Noosa deputy chair Elizabeth Reynolds said her group was "deeply concerned" as this online short-term sub-culture had grown beyond "all recognition the last couple of years".

Ms Reynolds said these hosts are "benefiting in every way" without addressing areas like workplace health and safety and fire safety.

"Everything is changed in an incredibly short time and from Tourism Noosa's point of view the tourism levy is something that those who benefit (from her group's destination marketing) should be paying".

"It's taken us all by surprise I think. It's like a tsunami that's just rolled over council, Tourism Noosa and I can just assure you that we're definitely on to it. We regard I as a high priority," she said.

Noosa Waters Residents Association president James Taylor told the gathering his group's common concerns were about anti-social behaviour, parking, garbage noise and the fact "there is no system to deal with complaints in a timely manor".

"Absentee owners renting out whole houses are more of a concern," Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said the concerns of the neighbourhood have to be a priority as they suffer from these anti-social renters.

"It takes local government so long to react to these things, we think the action really needs to be happening now."

Mr Taylor said Brisbane, Logan and Gold Coast councils have measures in place which manage these situations and "we're still talking about it".

He said this problem did not need "Clayton's legislation" and whatever is brought in needs to be enforced.

Mr Taylor said there were property owners in Noosa Waters who use private security to keep their short-term renters in check.

Noosa River Village Resort manager Michael Garnham told the meeting: "Council really needs to step in and do something about this seriously, because at the moment within 10 metres of our resort boundary we've got three Airbnb hosts.

"We've got one Airbnb host in the complex that doesn't even reside there."

Mr Garnham said Airbnb is taking business turnover away from his resort sector and "if we're not careful we're going to have a shortage of quality accommodation. That's what we're facing."


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