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  • Writer's pictureWendy I Emerald Property Estate

The Short-Stay Debate: Is It Really the Solution to Western Australia's Rental Crisis?

The rise of platforms like Airbnb and Stayz has revolutionized the way we travel. These platforms offer travelers a unique experience, often at a fraction of the cost of traditional hotels. However, with the increasing popularity of short-term rentals, concerns have arisen about their impact on the long-term rental market, especially in Western Australia.


The Global Perspective

Globally, cities are grappling with the effects of short-term rentals. Some believe that platforms like Airbnb drive up rents and exacerbate housing shortages. In response, many cities have begun to regulate short-stay rentals, with some even imposing bans or taxes. But is this the right approach?


The Situation in Western Australia

According to a comprehensive review by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), as of March 2023, there were 10,091 short-stay accommodations in WA. Almost half of these were in Perth, with the rest scattered across regional WA. However, only 8,056 of these were entire dwellings suitable for long-term rentals.

While the number of short-stay accommodations has seen a 16.2% increase year-on-year, they account for a minuscule percentage of total dwellings. In Perth, for instance, they make up just 0.4% of all dwellings. The ratio of short-stay accommodations to private rental dwellings is also low, with only 2 short-stay accommodations for every 100 private rentals in Perth.


Is Short-Stay Really the Problem?

Nicole Gurran, a professor of urban and regional planning at Sydney University, believes there's a clear link between the rise of short-term rentals and tighter rental markets. The more short-term rentals in an area, the higher the rents and house prices. However, short-stay companies argue that they are being unfairly targeted and are not the root cause of housing availability issues.


The Financial Incentive

Short-stay accommodations can be more lucrative than long-term rentals. In Perth, for example, a two-bedroom dwelling in the private rental market could earn an annual income of $25,800. To earn the same amount from short-stay accommodations, a property would only need to be rented out for 132 days in a year.


The Way Forward

While short-stay accommodations might not be the primary cause of the rental crisis, they do play a role, especially in areas already facing housing shortages. However, simply capping the number of days a property can be used for short-stay might not be the solution. Such measures could impact tourist areas where short-stay accommodations are essential. REIWA CEO Cath Hart believes that the key issue facing the rental market is supply. Encouraging short-stay providers to switch to the long-term market might sound like a good idea, but it's not a practical solution. Not every short-stay accommodation can be converted into a long-term rental.


Conclusion

The debate around short-stay accommodations and their impact on the rental market is complex. While they offer homeowners a chance to earn extra income and provide travelers with affordable accommodation options, their rapid growth has raised concerns. As Western Australia grapples with its rental crisis, a balanced approach that considers both the benefits and challenges of short-stay accommodations is needed.



Sources: ABC News, The Real Estate Conversation, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Western Australia, REIWA.

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