Hotel lobby ups ante in fight against Airbnb


THE Australian Hotels Association has stepped up its fight against Airbnb, proposing a five-point plan that would regulate, license and control the home-sharing sector.

The plan includes the requirement that restricts home-sharing to an owner’s primary residence and bans whole properties from being listed for home-sharing for fewer than 14 days.

“The unprecedented growth of unregulated short-stay accommodation is putting thousands of jobs in WA at risk,” AHA WA chief executive Bradley Woods said. “It is time for policymakers to recognise the scale of the problem confronting legitimate, registered and licensed accommodation providers and implement meaningful regulations to protect jobs with the hotel industry — a sector so critical to WA’s economy.

“The lack of regulation and enforcement of the short-stay accommodation market is imposing great harm on small and family-run businesses, undermining investment in WA hotels and placing thousands of employment and training opportunities at risk.

“Unregulated short-stay accommodation is not only disrupting but diseasing the hotel industry and it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

In August, concerns were raised among Margaret River’s accommodation providers that Airbnb was forcing many out of business because Airbnb hosts were not operating on a level playing field and did not have the same financial and regulatory imposts.

The AHA believes that home-sharing was supposed to be about giving people the opportunity make a few extra dollars from renting out a spare room or granny flat.

“The reality is most home-sharing platform listings (61 per cent) are not shared and are for entire houses and apartments, with about one in five hosts having more than one listing,” it says. “This means instead of being a facilitator in a genuine ‘share economy’, home-sharing platforms are enabling some property owners to mimic and compete with the hotel industry.

“Home-sharing platform listings don’t have to comply with the same building and safety regulations, they aren’t taxed in the same way and they are not policed or monitored as is the case with regulated accommodation.”

WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the State Government was in the process of developing its policy on Airbnb and short-stay accommodation and would consult the AHA.

Airbnb’s head of public policy in Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas, said it was helping working and middle-class families earn extra income to pay the bills and afford the family holiday.

“The AHA WA’s plan is nothing more than a wish list for the big end of town,” he said. “It is a blueprint that favours the big international hotels at the expense of local families and communities, puts an end to holiday homes, costs local jobs and hurts tourism.”