Airbnb isn’t making rental affordability “significantly” worse, but it is reducing the number of properties that are available for long-term renters in Sydney and Melbourne.
- Highest concentration of Sydney’s and Melbourne’s Airbnb listings are in the inner-city and beachside suburbs
- 9-15pc of rental properties in those ‘high demand’ areas are listed on Airbnb
- Study shows this trend results in fewer options for long-term renters
According to a new report, released today, that applies especially to the “high-demand” suburbs with “significant tourism appeal”.
The report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), which investigated the extent to which short-term leasing adds to housing affordability pressures, found that one in seven rental properties in Sydney’s and Melbourne’s inner-city and beachside suburbs are “commercial” Airbnb listings.
The research team — academics from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Swinburne University of Technology — defined “commercial” as an entire house or apartment that is listed for rental for more than three months (90 days) each year.
Reasons people gave for renting out their dwellings included “meet[ing] new people”, helping to “cover the cost of owning/renting” and specifically managing their “Airbnb properties as a business”.
Which suburbs are in ‘high demand’?
In Sydney, there was a high concentration of commercial Airbnb listings in Darlinghurst and the beach suburbs (Bondi, Bronte, Coogee and Manly), making up 11-15 per cent of all properties available for renting.
There were about 5,000 Sydney listings in November 2014, which peaked at almost 28,000 in December 2017. But it has since fallen to about 20,000 in February 2018.
Sydney tends to experience a spike in Airbnb listings in the months of December and January — a period which coincides with Christmas and its famous New Year’s Eve fireworks.
In Melbourne, 9-15 per cent of all rental properties in the Central Melbourne, Docklands, Southbank, Fitzroy and St Kilda clusters were commercial Airbnb listings.
There was an increase in listings in Melbourne, from 5,000 listings (August 2015) to around 18,000 (February 2018).
“As rental markets in Sydney and Melbourne are unaffordable for lower-income renters, even a small reduction in available rental properties is concerning,” said Dr Laura Crommelin, the lead researcher.
Airbnb listings for Sydney and Melbourne (2015 – 2018). (AHURI, L. Crommelin, L. Troy, C. Martin, S. Parkinson, AirDNA data)
She observed that in those “high-demand” suburbs, there was a decrease in bond lodgement rates and increasing levels of property vacancy.
Her team surveyed 491 Airbnb hosts from Sydney and Melbourne, in particular, because they had “more extensive data sets”, since much of Airbnb’s early growth in Australia occurred in those capital cities.
They also analysed rental bond lodgement data, and figures obtained from AirDNA — a company that collects Airbnb listings each month — and reports on each listing’s availability and occupancy.
‘Reshaping’ the investment property market
The report suggested that a swell in short-term Airbnb rentals in those markets was taking away from longer-term rentals, “thereby contributing to increasing unaffordability in the private rental sector”.
However, in Melbourne, that was somewhat offset by a boom in apartment construction in recent years, and a large number of those being “unoccupied”.
“We found some evidence that Airbnb is reshaping the market for investment properties in Australia,” Dr Crommelin said.
“For example, real estate agents have been cited claiming investors will pay a 2 – 3 per cent premium for properties that show a higher-yielding Airbnb income stream.
“Similarly, Airbnb property managers told us their businesses have been growing rapidly, as some investors are achieving better returns on short-term letting than long-term rental.”