New Zealand airbnb and the ‘wild west’ of rentals
Auckland is a city where Airbnb, the internet’s hottest new startup, is offering cheap rental apartments, but it’s not a place you’d expect to find a thriving market for it.
The city of just over 400,000 is the biggest in New Zealand and the third-biggest in the world.
But its popularity is also driven by its booming tourism industry.
Airbnb has grown into a global phenomenon, attracting a global audience and becoming the world’s biggest platform for booking and renting property.
There’s no doubt that the popularity of Airbnb and the company’s global reach have made it the biggest home-sharing platform.
But with its popularity has come a fair share of criticism from some.
“It’s a wild west of Airbnb rentals,” says Auckland Council’s housing policy manager Peter Stottlemyre.
In Auckland, there are more than 4,000 Airbnb properties on the market, with almost one in three rental properties being booked within 24 hours.
“[People] come to the city with no idea of the market they’re in and it’s the only place to find rental accommodation.
It’s not something that we’re trying to discourage,” he says.
Airbnb hosts aren’t welcome in many local businesses, says Stottlmyre, with many landlords refusing to book properties to rent out to hosts who don’t adhere to the company guidelines.
And with the growing popularity of the platform, the city of more than 40,000 has had to adapt.
Now, some Airbnb hosts are getting a bit more flexible.
Many of the accommodation services available to hosts in Auckland are being rolled out, and the city is starting to see fewer empty apartments, says New Zealand City Council’s planning and housing policy director David Wray.
Wray says it’s been difficult to find landlords willing to book accommodation with Airbnb, but the company is now doing a better job of keeping up with demand.
He says the council wants to ensure that hosts don’t have to be part of the Airbnb ecosystem to be able to find affordable accommodation.
Airbnb’s success has come at a cost for Auckland residents, says Wray, as well as local businesses.
We are seeing people leave the city who were renting from them in the past and have decided to rent on other platforms, he says, pointing to the increasing number of people leaving Auckland.
This includes people who were looking for affordable accommodation because they could not find rental housing.
That’s a really sad situation for us, says Canterbury-based property consultant Paul Fidler.
Auckland’s economy has grown and people are looking for more affordable places to live.
The city is in the middle of an economic boom, he adds, but housing is still a problem.
If Airbnb were to shut down, he worries the city could lose the talent it needs to support local businesses and support local housing.
“We would have a very hard time attracting people who want to live here in Canterbury.”
If the company shut down in Auckland, Stottlingmyre says there’s no way of knowing how much would be lost.
One of the biggest issues is that there is no regulatory structure in place to regulate the way Airbnb hosts can and can’t use the platform.
That could make it harder for hosts to manage and police their properties, he warns.
Stottlemore says there is also concern about the impact on Auckland’s water supply, particularly in Auckland’s south-west, where there are huge volumes of heavy rain.
When it rains, there’s an excess of water in the lakes, he explains, which could lead to a problem with the water treatment plants and could impact the water quality of the lake.
At the moment, the City of Auckland doesn’t regulate Airbnb and Stottler says it may be a few more years before the council’s water management department has a look at the issue.
How does it work?
Airbnb is a property sharing platform.
The company connects users with hosts by letting them reserve a space for them.
They pay a monthly fee to have their space rented, and then the hosts book the space and pay the fee themselves.
After booking a space, hosts rent it to other users, usually for as long as they like.
Then hosts pay the host for the space.
These rates are based on a host’s location, and there’s a sliding scale that is set so that hosts can book more than one space per night.
As long as hosts keep a minimum monthly rental of $150, they can book up to 30 nights of rental accommodation per year, according to Airbnb.
However, if a host is being booked to stay longer than 30 nights per year there’s more room for more hosts to book.
What are the rules?
Airbnb hosts must abide by the Airbnb hosts’ terms and conditions.
Hosts can’t advertise their location or use