While local residents in Byron Bay have been offered the prospect of some respite from the incursion of holiday letting agencies into residential homes, it seems no one is immune from the worst ravages of the “party flat” syndrome
Hundreds of posh party animals have trashed a $5 million luxury flat in a non-stop weekend rage in the seriously upmarket Kensington area of London.
“No property is immune from this,” says Reuben Schwarz of our resident STHL-watchers BNBguard. “Even pricey places are cheap when you have 50 people splitting the bill.”
Closer to home, while regional holiday let specialists Stayz are spitting chips over the move to allow Byron Bay shire to limit holiday lets to no more than 90 nights a year, according to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, Airbnb seems almost philosophical.
However, the $50 billion global holiday letting behemoth and other short-term letting groups have been fighting governments and city councils on a number of fronts around the world.
The Airbnb message will be familiar to observers here in Australia – STHLs bring in hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy but have no appreciable detrimental effect on rents or housing availability.
That highly dubious, if not downright illogical argument may have been swallowed whole by gullible state governments such as in Victoria and Tasmania, but elsewhere authorities are less convinced.
In Edinburgh, Airbnb’s lobbying for weaker regulation sees them urging the Scottish government to water down proposed laws that would require holiday landlords to acquire a licence for holiday lets of more than 45 nights a year.
The Scottish capital’s city council supports the new restrictions, saying the city’s private rental stock has been reduced by 10 per cent since online letting agencies moved in.
Elsewhere, there’s even more evidence that the spread of illegal holiday lets is having serious impacts on residential housing. Hawaii is enjoying a tourism boom with visitor numbers up 25 percent over the past seven years … without a similar increase in hotel room availability.
Most of the extra numbers are being absorbed by STHLs many of which are illegal outside of designated vacation zones on some islands, pushing up rents and reducing residential housing availability by between five and 15 per cent.
According to this story, Maui residents have voted to impose tough penalties on illegal vacation rentals and a similar crackdown appears to be looming on Oahu. Meanwhile Honolulu City Council has a half-dozen regulatory measures under consideration.
Meanwhile, Airbnb and its “frenemy” Homeaway have lawyered-up to fight city statutes that would restrict their business model in the holiday letting hot spots of New York and Miami Beach.
In the Big Apple the two companies have won a temporary injunction against regulations that would compel them to reveal the identities of their hosts. However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is confident the city will ultimately win.
“We think it’s a good law,” he said. “This is a law to stop landlords from creating de facto hotels, which is unfair and illegal, which creates real security problems for neighbours.”
And finally Airbnb is taking the city council of Miami Beach, Florida, to court to avoid having to put registration numbers on listings, a process that would reveal any of its properties that were operating illegally.
Miami Beach officials have been strictly enforcing the city’s rules on rentals of anything less than six months. Fines for illegal STHLs in single-family homes and most multi-family buildings start at $20,000.
The tourism hot spot also passed laws last year that would fine online letting agencies up to $5,000 a time for failing to take down listings of illegal lets.
According to its lawsuit, Airbnb offered to voluntarily “geofence” – not post listings located in areas where short-term rentals were prohibited. However, the city also wants the website to require hosts to provide a city council registration number to prove they had permission to operate their short-term rental.
Thanks to our sponsors BNBguard for these links.