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Gold Coast’s $53 million Airbnb boom

By Zahndra Kershaw

GOLD Coasters are raking in more than $1 million a week by putting their homes and rentals on Airbnb.

The short-term accommodation giant says visitors to the city last year put $53 million into the pockets of Glitter Strip property owners. On average, each host made $6000.

Airbnb country manager Sam McDonagh said Gold Coast hosts made $53.1 million last year.

The overall cash cow figure was at least $10 million more than Brisbane and dwarfed every other area in Queensland, including Cairns ($19.7 million) and Townsville ($5.5 million).

The whole of the ACT earned $20 million.

Year on year, the number of listings on the Gold Coast jumped 67 per cent increase, Airbnb said.

Sam McDonagh, the Airbnb Australia country manager, said the data showed more Gold Coast families and small businesses were using the home sharing portal.

Last year, 160,100 Gold Coasters used the service when travelling elsewhere, an increase of 52 per cent on the year before, Airbnb said.

Unit Owners Association Queensland spokesman Mike Murray said hosts needed to weigh up the extra income with the added cost of the insurance, rates and correct licensing needed for a short-term rental under council law.

“How much of the extra income goes into compensating the neighbours for the loss of the peaceful enjoyment they are entitled to in their own home?” Mr Murray said.

“The Insurance Council of Australian recognises short-term accommodation as commercial use, so owners need to be aware of the increase they may see in fees or be at risk of voiding their agreements all together,” he said.

“Those looking to act legally also need to ensure they are compliant under council law, which could cost up to $10,000.”

The Bulletin last year reported the Gold Coast City Council had taken the extraordinary step of cutting down key boxes to stop homeowners flouting council zoning laws by subletting their apartments through Air BnB.

Tony Kyle, a partner of ABKJ Lawyers, said he had seen an increase in the number of owners being issued with show cause notices by the council.

Gold Coast Acting Mayor Donna Gates said Council officers investigate every complaint regarding illegal holiday letting.

“I am not aware of anyone who has ignored the letters from council,” Mr Kyle said.

“Fines can run into the hundreds of thousands so people either apply for a change of use of their property or stop,” he said.

The council was unable to provide the number of notices issued in 2018.

Acting Mayor Donna Gates said the City encouraged extra tourism dollars to a point.

“The City is committed to finding ways to diversify our economy and ensure that the tourist dollar stays in our city,” Cr Gates said.

“However, if an owner wishes to start renting out their property on a short-term basis then they need to make a development application. How a rental property is advertised is immaterial, as someone who is running a business on a site must have appropriate approvals to operate.”

“Council officers investigate every complaint regarding illegal holiday letting and take appropriate action according to the outcomes of those investigations.”

REIQ Zone chair John Newlands said the prevenance of short-term rentals had not affected the availability of affordable rentals.

“Owners of units feel they can earn more though short-term letting in some cases, but a majority of those moving to Airbnb occurs in managed resorts, or existing holiday accommodation.

“We haven’t seen an impact on rentals all together but we have seen a growing trend towards more real estate agents managing in the Airbnb space.”

Destination Gold Coast and the Accommodation Association of Australia did not return requests for comment.

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