While Airbnb touts itself as part of the sharing economy, academics from the University of New South Wales have found that there’s actually a mix of activities happening on the sharing platform.
Such activities include the use of the platform for permanent short-term rentals. “Thus, instead of enabling new efficiencies in the use of housing assets and providing financial security for existing residents, Airbnb may be a variation on an old theme: removing properties from the market for long-term rental or purchase,” said the paper by housing experts Laura Crommelin, Chris Martin, and Laurence Troy.
Their 2016 data revealed that about a quarter of Sydney’s Airbnb listings were best viewed as short-term letting businesses, rather than examples of the sharing economy in action. The figure was greater for other global cities– 26% in New York, 28% in London and Hong Kong, and 49% in Paris.
In effect, the Sydney listings are not simply excess unused housing space, which means there’s no “sharing” involved.
In a separate article published on The Conversation, academics called on regulators to formulate policies that account for the different uses of platforms like Airbnb, and be particularly focused on the impact of commercial short-term letting.
The research was published before the New South Wales Government announced last week major changes to the state’s short-term letting laws. Under the new rules, strata owner corporations will have the power to introduce by-laws that prohibit short-term letting for houses in their block that are not the principal place of residence of hosts.
The changes also limit hosts based in the greater Sydney area to rent out their homes for up to 180 nights a year, ABC News reported. Regional areas will have no caps, but councils can choose to impose limits.
These provisions strike the appropriate balance between permitting individuals to use their homes within reasonable limits with the need to protect the interests of neighbours,” said Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean in a speech before the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.