AIRBNB: New university survey wants to hear from locals.
AIRBNB: New university survey wants to hear from locals. Christian Morrow

Holiday housing hassle

AIRBNB has been accused of behaving in a secretive manner by the owner of an approved accommodation business who attended a fractious meeting of around 40 Airbnb hosts in Byron Bay last week.

Local media were barred from attending the meeting convened by Airbnb to provide information to local "Home Sharing Clubs” regarding a new Short Term Holiday Letting (STHL) policy .

The new rules coming into force soon could see restrictions placed on the length of time a home could be let out on the home sharing platforms.

The state government says a mandatory code of conduct for short-term holiday letting, such as through Airbnb and HomeAway, will crack down on bad behaviour.

Byron Council will be preparing a submission to the state government regarding the new policy at its November 22 meeting and interest groups on both sides are ramping up lobbying of Councillors and the State Government.

Byron Shire Councillor Michael Lyon said last week's, "invite only meeting that did not allow press or concerned citizens was no doubt held to discuss strategies to shore up these new lucrative businesses operating in residentially-zoned areas.”

One owner of an approved accommodation business who was present at the Home Sharing Club meeting agreed to speak to the Byron Shire News on the condition of anonymity.

"The financial stakes were now so high around Airbnb type platforms in Byron Shire, that friendships are breaking down over the issue. Some owners of approved accommodation businesses have been the subject of open hostility from others who want to see so called sharing platforms like Airbnb given free rein to operate in Byron Shire,” the owner said.

"At the meeting Airbnb members were being given contact emails for local politicians. They even have an online email proforma set up to to click and send objections to any proposed restriction on the number of days a home can be let.

"But on the other hand it is very difficult to get information from Airbnb about insurance liabilities, booking policies or even what their definition of home sharing is. This is a very high handed way to behave.”

Mondays meeting coincided with the beginning of a Southern Cross University a research survey asking that asks locals for their opinions on Airbnb at: https://scuau.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bIOJVj8oZWjfDyB

The results of the survey will be forwarded to Byron Shire Council ahead of them making a submission to the state government regarding the new STHL regulations following Council's November 22 meeting.

A spokesman from Airbnb said Monday night's meeting allowed, "our community (to voice) their concerns about special interests trying to malign them.

"They are tired of being used as a political punching bag. They are upset the big end of town is trying to make life harder and more expensive for them and their guests.”

"There is a growing Airbnb community in Byron Bay of locals who rely on home sharing as hosts and guests.

"Our community of local hosts and guests is a constituency that is too big to ignore. We have seen in other places around Australia and the world that when they organise, politicians listen.”


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