Industry backs Airbnb crackdown
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.