In­dus­try backs Airbnb crack­down

Rotorua Review - - OUT & ABOUT - AMANDA CROPP

Hospi­tal­ity NZ has backed a pro­posal to tighten up on Airbnb in Queen­stown, and says other tourist hot spots - such as Ro­torua - may have to fol­low suit.

Spokes­woman Rachael Shad­bolt said it was al­most im­pos­si­ble for hospi­tal­ity work­ers to find rental ac­com­mo­da­tion in Queen­stown and the move would help ad­dress short­ages.

The growth in Airbnb and on­line hol­i­day home let­ting had also had a ma­jor im­pact on the avail­abil­ity of af­ford­able rental hous­ing for both lo­cal res­i­dents and in­com­ing work­ers in ar­eas such as Ro­torua, Nel­son, Golden Bay and the Coro­man­del, she said.

The Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Council is seek­ing pub­lic feed­back on a pro­posal to limit short term peer to peer rent­ing, which would in­tro­duce a 28-day-a-year cap in outer res­i­den­tial ar­eas, and 90 days in the cen­tre of town.

Those who went over the limit would need to get re­source con­sent and Airbnb has crit­i­cised the move as a ‘‘nanny state’’ pol­icy.

But Shad­bolt said the hospi­tal­ity sec­tor was heart­ened by the pro­posed change, which may be needed in other cen­tres too.

As of June, Queen­stown Lakes had an un­em­ploy­ment rate of less than 2 per cent and 14 per cent of the dis­trict’s hous­ing was oc­cu­pied by Airbnb, a com­bi­na­tion that made staff re­cruit­ment very dif­fi­cult, she said. ‘‘If th­ese re­stric­tions go some way to free­ing up houses for the long-term rental mar­ket it will take se­ri­ous pres­sures off busi­nesses in the re­gion.

‘‘A lot of work­ers don’t have ve­hi­cles, they want to live and work in the heart of Queen­stown so they can walk to work, or at least be on a quick bus route.’’

Al­though peer-to-peer ac­com­mo­da­tion was im­por­tant for tourism, there needed to be bet­ter reg­u­la­tion of the sec­tor for prop­erty own­ers rent­ing in a ‘‘heav­ily com­mer­cial’’ way, Shad­bolt said.

‘‘Com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­nesses in New Zealand have strict reg­u­la­tions around fire safety, build­ing com­pli­ance, and health and safety. If peer-to-peer op­er­a­tors are op­er­at­ing in a com­mer­cial ca­pac­ity they should be abid­ing by the same rules.

Prob­lems with Airbnb and short term hol­i­day rentals suck­ing up af­ford­able hous­ing is af­fect­ing tourism towns like Ro­torua.

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