What impact is Airbnb having on Canberra?
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What impact is Airbnb having on Canberra?

Have you ever wondered why you seem to have new neighbours every few days?

Or have you been on the receiving end of angry stares while staying at an Airbnb?

A group of industry experts will discuss whether Airbnb is legal and how it fits into the ACT planning and leasehold framework

A group of industry experts will discuss whether Airbnb is legal and how it fits into the ACT planning and leasehold frameworkCredit:Josh Robenstone

On Wednesday, Canberra legal firm Meyer Vandenberg with the Planning Institute of Australia will host a think tank to talk about Airbnb in the capital.

The panel will discuss whether Airbnb is legal, how it fits into the ACT planning and leasehold framework, and what, if anything, should be done about changing our regulations to adapt to the share economy.

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Deb Barnes of Capital Crown Leasing, who will be a speaker at the event, said there was no definition of what Airbnb was under the territory plan other than residential use.

"Under unit plans I've suggested that it be under the body corporate to make it their ruling about what they want people to do," she said.

"But, if I buy a unit, I should be able to do with it what I want and if I’m using it for the purposes of people doing residential things, then surely that shouldn’t cause an issue.

"I do understand that people in units are a bit disturbed by having strange people coming and going all the time when they thought they bought into residential apartments."

She said she didn't believe the government needed to be involved.

"It’s like telling me I can’t grow my own vegetables out in my own garden because I should go and buy vegetables.

"It’s trying to control something that doesn't need to be controlled - You can’t control every asset of life."

Alisa Taylor of Meyer Vandenberg said short-term leasing had always been a difficult issue in apartment complexes and now with online platforms like Airbnb, it was easier for owners to rent out their properties.

"Many of my clients are property developers, real estate agents, owners corporations and investors or home buyers, and we thought it was important that we get in a room together and workshop the problems and possible solutions from an ACT perspective," Ms Taylor said.

"We are going to facilitate a discussion about the pros and cons of changing the regime to address some of the problems people face, and what, if anything, that change could look like."

Ms Taylor said Airbnb was not illegal in the ACT unless a court decided a case should be treated differently to residential use.

"It depends on your zoning and Crown lease, and the terms of any head lease if you are a tenant," she said.

"However, until we have a clear judicial decision about it, or our government clarifies how Airbnb will be treated under our planning regime, we don’t really know."

Alisa Taylor of Meyer Vandenberg said short-term leasing had always been a difficult issue in apartment complexes and now with online platforms like Airbnb.

Alisa Taylor of Meyer Vandenberg said short-term leasing had always been a difficult issue in apartment complexes and now with online platforms like Airbnb.Credit:Josh Robenstone

An ACT government spokeswoman said the government had considered the current regulatory settings that apply to short-term rental accommodation, such as Airbnb, and "at this stage, we are not proposing any new regulatory framework".

"The ACT Government keeps a watching brief on sharing economy issues, including reviewing the approaches of other jurisdictions and evaluating whether elements of their reforms would be appropriate or beneficial for the ACT," she said in a statement.

A Griffith Airbnb host, who wished to remain anonymous, said he has had his two bedroom apartment listed for about three years and that it was a good way to make money on the side.

"I have noticed that the return is better than if the place were rented out on a 12-month basis which really helps with bills," he said.

"There are a lot of people using Airbnb in Canberra and I have helped out with advice for some friends and friends of friends who were interested but not sure if it was for them."

He said he found a lot of people had undervalued their property without looking at what was in the market.

The think tank will take place from 5pm at Level 2, 121 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra. Speakers joining Ms Barnes include Alisa Taylor and Lauren Gray from Meyer Vandenberg and Natalia Weglarz of Knight Frank.

  • Members of the public are asked to RSVP by email to ann.darcey@mvlawyers.com.au.

Han Nguyen reports on property for The Canberra Times. She joined the Times in 2017 after working as a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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