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Study reveals impact of short-term rentals on housing affordability is limited

Short-term holiday rentals, such as Airbnb and Stayz properties, only have a “limited” impact on long-term rental affordability, according to a Queensland Government study.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said as part of planning reforms to create more housing supply amid a rental crisis, the Palaszczuk Government engaged the University of Queensland to assess the impacts of short-term rentals on housing affordability and availability.

The study revealed there were about 19,773 active short-term rentals in the state in the first quarter of the year, with 11,193 used on a permanent basis.

Two-thirds of the properties were in the south-east of the state, with short-term rentals most prevalent in holiday hotspots such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Noosa, Douglas, Whitsunday, Cairns, Moreton Bay and Townsville. 

Mr Miles said the study found an increase of 10 per cent in the total number of short-term rental listings could lead to a contribution in the range of 0.2 per cent to 0.5 per cent towards rent price changes.

By comparison, a 10 per cent increase in the overall stock of dwellings could lead to a noteworthy decrease in rent prices, ranging from 1 per cent to 2 per cent.

“The review found no clear alignment between the suburbs with the highest rent increases and the percentage of dwellings devoted to short-term rental,” Mr Miles said. 

“Instead, dwelling stocks emerged as the significant contributor to explaining rental prices.

“These results show that while short-term rentals can affect rental affordability to some extent, its impact is limited.

“The review emphasised the vital role of housing availability and supply in rental prices, highlighting the importance of having enough housing options for our community.

“It also noted that a one-size-fits-all solution could miss the mark in addressing local challenges.”

Mr Miles said the government would “look into” implementing a short-term rental registration system, which was a recommendation of the review.

“A registration system could serve as a tool to support local governments in monitoring short-term rental activity and could provide invaluable insights into its impact on our housing market over time, to inform evidence-based regulation,” he said.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) said the government study only confirmed what most in the industry already knew – that rental supply is the source of the rental crisis and is what impacts rental affordability.

“How many different times do we need to end up coming to the same conclusion that insufficient rental supply is the root of the issue before it hits home?” REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said.

“This report cements the fact there is no correlation between the prevalence of short-term rentals and nearby long-term rental affordability, and our hope is that it can finally stop distracting government from where their real focus needs to be – addressing supply.”

Ms Mercorella said the REIQ did not support or understand the point of the proposed short-term rental register, given it contradicts the report’s acknowledgement of the limited impact of short-term rentals on the rental market.

“The proposed short-term rental register smacks of using any excuse for the government to collect data on property investors for the purposes of ultimately penalising them through greater regulation and higher rates,” she said.

Ms Mercorella said it was not a new phenomenon to see properties being offered on the short-term market in a holiday hotspot like Queensland – which is and always has been a popular tourist destination.

“This crisis wasn’t caused by people investing in Queensland property or having holiday homes in our state,” she said.

“Planning pitfalls and various obstacles have been holding back our state’s housing supply and pathways to home ownership – and this is absolutely where the government’s focus needs to be to get to the crux of this issue.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.