A few weeks ago I wrote about how short-term holiday lets were impacting on the residential rental market. Reader Jill Saunders in Tasmania didn’t dispute that assertion, but she feels if residential landlords were given more protection, they’d be less keen to switch to Airbnb. Here is her letter in full, unedited and without comment.
After reading your piece in the AFR today, I thought I had to write to you.
I am an Airbnb host (for 12 years now) but this is part of my house and too small to let out on the rental market which was the basis and core of Air of Air Bnb’s beginnings.
It now has ballooned into freestanding lets and solo properties which is the main focus of the issues now plague ing the rental sector.
The one thing that is never mentioned, or considered in these argument is the landlords and the risk they are taking in long term rentals; rogue tenants and huge problems getting rid of them, and getting recompense for their properties destroyed.
The huge cost to themselves emotionally and financially is often so that they will never no matter what go back to the long-term market again.
Landlords have very few rights, which are continually being eroded, and as far as they’re concerned, Airbnb and other platforms provide an opportunity to provide a much-needed tourism resource particular for example in Tasmania, where I live, where there not enough hotels to cater for the huge number of tourists that are now coming here, and in any case visitors like alternatives like Air Bnb etc.
Stayz and the like have been around for decades with no issues.
I simply can’t understand why the laws around long-term rental, as far as the landlord are concerned, are not underwritten by governments to ensure that the damage that is done by rogue tenants is genuinely recoverable.
There are thousands of cases nationally showing that people are baulking at having their hard won asset -which is often a mom-and-pop- operation, often their “super” – destroyed by long-term renters with absolutely no recourse or financial recovery possible.
People say why don’t they turn to insurance to get their damage replaced?
My question is why should they need to do so given that they then are stung with a much higher premium when they themselves have done absolutely nothing wrong.
This also forces up the premiums that they need to pay and in turn that of the entire neighbourhood, and that just multiplies and multiplies.
Why does nobody mention thiscore, fundamental fact, when discussing this in the media?
I have an small apartment under my house, but I cannot rent that long-term, it is much too small, and in any case I do not want to get involved with the inability to eject rogue tenants without spending thousands of dollars of my own money to do so: like many others!
This is a very serious problem, and I believe the core of the reason that people are moving to Airbnb, so they have control over their own property, which is the fundamental reason, and at the end of the day their right, and the reason Long-term rentals are dropping.
It would be naive to not mention, of course that the return on Airbnb is much higher, but of course the expenditure on that is much higher. Maintaining the property cleaning etc etc, but the landlord has control and that is what is missing in LTR.
Unless governments actively engage with this core problem, and give landlords equal weight to tenants, who are protected, there is no reason for anyone to take their property off Air, Bnb and risk damage, not only financial but emotional and personal.
Secondly no mention is made of the lack of social housing which, in the 30 years I have been resident in Australia has been chronically neglected with nowhere near enough being built, again that should be focused on, but it is not because it doesn’t seem to have any political will behind it to do anything about it.
Where are all the demountable buildings that could be bought by governments and put into place immediately to house those absolutely desperate for housing but on benefits too low to compete with private renters?
I believe the answer is that the temporary dwelling towns that would spring up would be a massive embarrassment to the government showing in 3D the neglect of the social housing sector over the past 50 years, so it has not done this because it would be concrete evidence their neglect.
Air Bnb and the other rental platforms are a convenient whipping boy to focus on, when real reform of the rental laws giving equal rights to tenant and landlord, so that the huge risk and financial gamble that the landlord is taking can be ameliorated by being underwritten, would instantly give confidence to those with the assets to let.
This is just one example of a landlord who has just had enough of the destruction and damage, I’m sure you will find many more.