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UNSW Sydney researchers to talk to Airbnb hosts

UNSW Sydney researchers said they want to chat with Airbnb hosts in Sydney and Melbourne to shed light on the impact the short-term rental platform is having on housing affordability.

The Australian University said in a statement today the explosive growth of Airbnb has raised hackles in tourism and government circles, amid complaints about unfair competition and party houses.

UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre head research lecturer Dr Laura Crommelin said but not enough is known about how Airbnb affects housing affordability. The research is done in collaboration with Swinburne University and funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

Airbnb hosts offering entire homes or single spare rooms on the platform are being asked about why they are using the service and their experiences with it.

“Those two uses are potentially very different in terms of their impact on housing affordability,” said Crommelin. “The first group takes a house out of the market; the second is more a case of a space that may or may not have been rented out if it wasn’t for Airbnb.”

According to independent, open-source data tool Inside Airbnb, of the 32,830 listings in Sydney, 61.5 % are for entire homes, 37% for private rooms and a tiny 1.5% are share rooms. The breakdown is almost identical for Melbourne’s 20,406 listings.

“We want to find out, for example, if spare rooms were previously rented to flatmates. Would the owners of large homes have downsized if they hadn’t listed spare rooms on Airbnb? And are people adding space to their homes or building granny flats to take advantage of Airbnb’s popularity?” said Crommelin. “By surveying and interviewing hosts, we hope to better inform policy makers who might want to regulate the short-term rental market.”

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