“Since last year, Airbnb has been advocating for tourism levies in Australia as a way for governments to raise funds from all accommodation providers to support housing and infrastructure projects, and we support the Victorian government in exploring this,” he said.
“Airbnb supports policies that would help boost housing construction across the country, however, a 7.5 per cent levy that applies only to short-term rental accommodation is too high, and would give hotels a free kick and create an uneven playing field.”
Eacham Curry, senior director of government and corporate affairs at short-term rental platform Stayz, said recent studies from Queensland show holiday rentals were not the main driver of housing shortages.
“There is some minor impact from the short-term sector, but it is negligible in the context of the broader issues which driving those affordability and availability questions,” he said.
“We are neither the cause of nor the solution to a question around housing affordability and availability.”
Stayz also supports a broader tourism levy.
But other state and territory governments have shown interest in similar levies on short-stay rentals, and some local councils such as Hobart City Council and Brisbane City Council have this year increased rates on short-term rental properties.
Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Steve Holland, a libertarian who represents a slice of Victoria with one of the highest densities of Airbnb listings, said a short-stay levy would do absolutely nothing to free up rental properties or address residents’ concerns.
“The premier can’t help himself,” he said. “He’s got a big budget problem and he wants our struggling tourism and hospitality sectors to fix it.
“It’s just a cash grab. How does a new tax solve noise, parking or rubbish complaints?”
But the director of community engagement at Tenants Victoria, Farah Farouque, said an Airbnb levy would be a good first step.
“Short stay accommodation has been operating for too long like the wild west,” she said.
“In the absence of regulation, it’s clearly taking away from the supply of long-term homes in the private rental market in some locations like the CBD and some popular holiday areas.”
In the minutes of its monetary policy meeting this month, released on Tuesday, the Reserve Bank noted that the rental market remained very tight but said there had been some tentative signs of an easing in conditions.
Vacancy rates had increased slightly in some capital cities in recent months, and although growth in advertised rents for new leases had remained strong in most capital cities, it had slowed in most regional areas.
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