Roundup: What happens when the powers that be curb Airbnb

As I sit in a hotel in Da Nang, Vietnam, my planned billet in Hoi An under water, and the death toll from Typhoon Damrey rising up to 50, it’s hard to get too worked up about what I had planned to write – the effect of Airbnb on housing availability and rents in a Third World country like this, where tourism has exploded in recent years.

There are no readily available statistics on Airbnb in Vietnam but in any case I wanted to see it from the other side- as a user.

I rented a two-bedroom flat in a semi run-down area just south of the Old (or tourist) Quarter.  The flat was on the second floor of the three storey block that had clearly seen better days.  Large families lived above and below and the flat had at least three rooms that weren’t used.

Most of the neighbouring flats had built cages on to the backs of their units to add space (I’m guessing they weren’t aviaries). The story I got from the property manager was that this flat would never have been rented to an ordinary family – they tend to rent elsewhere – and the other families in the block owned their homes.

The flat itself was the charming side of basic but things like unreliable plumbing and a lack of any real facilities – no glasses, one hot plate, no toaster and no microwave – made it more of a backpacker option, for my money (which was $55 a night for both of us, if you must know). It certainly didn’t live up to its five-star rating.

It seems the owner had bought it in a very run-down state and had done it up a bit and made so much money off it she was now on her second property and looking to expand further. OK, so is this making an impact on housing availability in Hanoi?

Hardly. Although the website suggests that 289 of 306 listings are entire homes, that is just as smidge over 300 (mostly) flats in a city with a population of over double that of Sydney’s. Don’t forget, this is in a country that has seen tourism rise from 500,000 annually 25 years ago to about 10 million today.

Those 306 flats don’t really match up to the 6000 Sydney homes lost to the holiday rental market, according to a Sydney University report.

Why would this be?  Maybe because the “hosts” have to register their guests with the police – including sending a copy of your visa – meaning the planning zone busting market, on which Airbnb thrives,  can’t get going there.

If that’s true, you have to think that maybe a totalitarian state isn’t such a bad idea.

Meanwhile, back in the so-called nanny state of Australia, where anybody can do what they want to make money, our Stratagurus have been keeping things ticking over on the Flat Chat forum.

So what’s been on your minds while I have been braving tempests and toast-free breakfasts? Let’s start with an unusually gruesome one:

  • Who pays when a hoarder dies and their body is left undiscovered for a long time, damaging common property. That’s HERE.
  • Can a special levy only be raised at an Annual General Meeting (as opposed to any other general meeting)? That’s HERE.
  • Oh, the poor trees! An owner has submitted 24 motions for the AGM, each with a 300-word explanation attached. Does the secretary have to send all them out with the agenda?  That’s HERE.
  • Can and, indeed, should you create a ‘blanket’ by-law to cover an impending flood of bathroom renovations? That’s HERE.
  • Previous tenants smashed up my rental property. How much and what from the repair bill can I claim back on tax? That’s HERE.

I know I always say this, but there are an awful lot more questions and answers on the Forum.  Keep them coming – we’re still here, keeping you informed.

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