Greens propose 1,000 per cent rates surcharge for Airbnb and other short-stay properties in Brisbane

Greens propose 1,000 per cent rates surcharge for Airbnb and other short-stay properties in Brisbane
  • PublishedSeptember 16, 2023

Brisbane properties used for short-stay accommodation will be subject to a council rates surcharge of 1,000 per cent if a proposal from the Greens is successful.

The party’s Brisbane City Council lord mayoral candidate Jonathan Sriranganathan announced the election commitment on Friday, saying the plan would “encourage better use of existing dwellings”.

But short-stay accommodation platform Airbnb has hit back at the idea, insisting no ratepayer of any kind of property should face “arbitrary, skyrocketing rates”.

The LNP-led Brisbane City Council introduced a 50 per cent rates surcharge on short-stay properties in 2022, which it increased to 65 per cent in this year’s budget.

The surcharge applies to properties that are leased through the short-stay market for more than 60 days of the year.

Mr Sriranganathan is proposing that the threshold be lowered to 45 days and that the surcharge be increased to 1,000 per cent.

The Greens’ proposal would not apply to properties that are put on the short-stay market while the owner is travelling.

Jonathan Sriranganathan wearing red clothing and a scarf while standing in front of trees.
Greens lord mayoral candidate Jonathan Sriranganathan is taking the policy to the council election.(ABC Radio Brisbane: Kenji Sato)

It also would not apply to long-term residents who live onsite at their property and use short-stay platforms to lease out spare bedrooms.

Mr Sriranganathan said ratcheting up rates for owners who leased their properties on the short-stay market would mean some would sell up, while others would turn to long-term local tenants.

“Building new homes takes time, so one of the most immediate and effective city council responses to the housing crisis is to encourage better use of existing dwellings,” he said.

“This is both an immediate emergency response to the housing crisis, and a long-term strategy to ensure that buildings used for short-term accommodation are fit for purpose and appropriately located.”

As of August 11 this year, the council had applied its 65 per cent rates surcharge to 990 properties, including 338 properties in Central Ward and 177 in The Gabba Ward.

Airbnb supports ‘opt-in tourism levies’

Mr Sriranganathan says the Greens conservatively estimate their policy will result in about 1,000 homes being transitioned to long-term rentals.

Airbnb Australia and New Zealand head of public policy Michael Crosby said the estimate was “dubious and unlikely”.

“Restricting the number of nights a property can be used for short-term accommodation via a cap doesn’t mean these properties will become long-term rentals,” he said.

“In many cases, hosts make properties available on Airbnb that would otherwise be used only for personal use, like regional-based workers working in the city a few days each week, or kept as an owner-occupied holiday home.

“Many of these homes are unlikely to ever be offered on the long-term rental market.”

Queenslanders in the foreground with Brisbane City in the background.
Airbnb says it supports an opt-in tourism levy that will contribute to new housing projects.(ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

Mr Crosby said Airbnb supported “opt-in tourism levies”, where a guest would be charged a small fee at the time of booking, which would contribute towards housing projects and local infrastructure.

“No ratepayer of any kind of property in Brisbane should be subjected to arbitrary, skyrocketing rates of 1,000 per cent, particularly when so many families are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

A Brisbane City Council taskforce is currently examining its response to the short-stay market.

A University of Queensland report commissioned by the Queensland government recently found short-term rental accommodation made up a small proportion of the state’s dwelling stock.

“There is little evidence to support the claim that increasing STRA [short-term rental accommodation] intensity accounts for a substantial proportion of the increase in rents observed since the start of 2020,” the report said.

The Greens have suggested that they would also consider changes to zoning laws to limit where short-stay properties could be located in the city.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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