According AHURI’s report, short-term letting (STL) platforms like the popular accommodation site, “provide a new form of financial opportunity for those who already have housing wealth, which adds greater flexibility to the way their housing assets can be exploited”.
The findings suggested that STL platforms are attracting those who may not have previously been involved in housing investment towards utilising their dwellings for financial gain.
“STL platforms have attracted new participants to the practice of providing commercial accommodation,” the report said.
“While many hosts may not be earning significant incomes, hosting is nonetheless reshaping their perceptions of the value of their housing.”
The research also found that although Airbnb hosts varied in their financial and housing situations, many had chosen to convert their long-term rental properties into short-term accommodation.
In fact, many involved in the study indicated they would actually factor the potential of Airbnb hosting into their future decisions on property.
Sydney’s popular eastern beaches suburbs, Darlinghurst and Manly, were found to have the most commercial Airbnb listings, defined as properties that are available on the site for more than 90 days of the year. Such dwellings accounted for 11.2 per cent to 14.8 per cent of rental housing stock in those areas.
While in Melbourne, the highest concentration of commercial Airbnb listings were located in central Melbourne, Docklands, Southbank, Fitzroy and St Kilda, accounting for between 8.6 per cent and 15.3 per cent of rental housing stock.
Such findings corroborate those delivered by a team of UNSW researchers earlier this year, which found that a quarter of Sydney Airbnb’s are commercial short-term lettings operated by investors.
However, AHURI’s report did not look favourably on such property owner behaviour, intimating that lower bond lodgement rates and higher levels of property vacancy in these popular Airbnb areas is indicating that STL is taking long-term rentals out of the property market.
“This fluidity is likely to come at the expense of certainty for prospective tenants and owners, for whom long-term housing may be more difficult to secure, particularly in areas where peak period STL prices are high,” it said.
“This adds another factor to the mix of issues already reducing the likelihood that the market will provide a steady and sufficient supply of affordable long-term housing, for both rental and ownership.”
The report concluded that such short-term letting platforms need to be more tightly regulated.
This recommendation comes on the back of the NSW government’s decision in June to restrict Airbnbs in greater Sydney to being available a maximum 180 nights a year per property.
Airbnb was receptive to the regulations at the time, heralding them as a “green light” for home sharing.