An Adelaide council home to the state’s most popular beach is calling for Airbnb-type accommodation to be classified as hotels.
Holdfast Bay Council is calling for the change to better regulate the industry, and avoid tourist areas becoming ghost towns in winter and on weekdays.
Last night it voted to write to South Australian Planning Minister Stephan Knoll to change planning laws so that anyone renting out accommodation for less than 28 days would have to apply for development approval as a hotel.
They would then have to pay commercial rates on the property.
South Australia one of the most relaxed jurisdictions for share accommodation
At the moment, landlords do not have to get development approval to rent out their properties through Airbnb or similar companies.
Glenelg beach, in Holdfast Bay, is one of the state’s top tourist attractions and the suburb has thousands of hotel rooms.
About 300 properties are registered on Airbnb in the region, which also includes the beachside suburbs of Brighton, Somerton Park and Seacliff.
Acting Holdfast Bay Mayor Amanda Wilson said the council was worried that new apartments going up in Glenelg might not bring in as much new activity as planned.
They have only been allowed since height restrictions in Glenelg were relaxed in 2016.
“We’re a bit worried about the balance between residents and visitors at Glenelg,” Ms Wilson told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“We’ve got a few new towers going up and we want to really make sure the people moving into the new apartment complexes are going to live in Glenelg most of the time and not have these apartments empty during the winter or the weekdays.”
Adelaide City Council is also producing a report on how it could better regulate the sharing industry.
Ms Wilson said people buying into the complexes — three of which are on Jetty Road and another on South Esplanade — wanted to know who their neighbours would be.
“We want to provide those people buying into those apartments some security that they’ll be there with other residents and the apartments won’t be used for short-term stay all of the time,” she said.
“We don’t have a problem with using our accommodation stock for short-term stay, per se, there’s a place for that in Holdfast Bay — we’re a place for visitors — but not all of the time the same places.”
Changing the planning rules would create a register of short-term accommodation, which could then be used to ban people allowing “party houses”, she said.
“That seems to me a pretty common-sense way to regulate it,” she said.
‘Not needed’, says property developer and owner
Andrew Taplin is building the three Jetty Road apartment complexes.
His business, Taplin Real Estate, also manages properties and strata corporations on behalf of their owners.
The company has a policy of only allowing leases shorter than three months if more than 75 per cent of the other owners voted to allow it, which they never do.
“It’s worked very successfully for us because if you’re a purchaser you want to know if you’re going into a hotel or [serviced] apartments or Airbnb,” Mr Taplin said.
He said regulating Airbnb’s was unlikely to reduce property prices because owners could get less income from their new apartments because people would be happy to know they would not be living next to short-term tenants.
Glenelg residents such as Clive Fiebig have previously complained about serviced apartments being rented out for parties through hotel companies.
He said Airbnb tenants tended to be better because landlords could rate them down for bad behaviour.
“They’re all well-behaved, mate,” Mr Fiebig said.
“I haven’t heard any bad issues.”
Host says Airbnb properties are not the problem
Airbnb host Tiffany Hall used to rent her Glenelg property through a serviced-apartment company but poor financial returns led her to move to Airbnb.
“In peak season, when they were charging $300 to $400 per night to get $60 to $70 back in our pocket,” she said.
“Now, [guests] are paying half the price of what they would have and we’re earning four times more.”
She said she had never had an issue with an Airbnb guest and did not see the need for more regulations.
She disputed claims that Airbnb was creating a ghost town in the beachside area during winter and said the apartment would still be used for short-term accommodation whether it was through a hotel or Airbnb.
“Even through winter we’re completely booked out… by the beginning of next month, July next year will be completely booked out, too,” she said
“It’s the same type of people coming and going.”
Another Airbnb host in Glenelg, Julie Keldermans, said she also had a lot of bookings through winter.
But she said there would be some positives to come with greater regulation.
“In one sense, it will get rid of the riff raff that Airbnb brings … we’ve all heard the horror stories,” she said.
While she said nothing had happened to her and she had no negative experiences with Airbnb tenants, she would welcome better safety and protections for hosts.
Airbnb has been contacted for comment.