Rates hike for Airbnb operators on cards

The free ride could soon be over for Airbnb operators as the Dunedin City Council considers higher rates for the city’s booming residential short-term visitor accommodation market.

While the Otago Motel Association, which has been lobbying for change since 2014, is welcoming some form of first step, the Otago Property Investors Association says there could be unknown consequences, including a stifled property market and a reduction in accommodation for visitors while the city prospers from a growing visitor market.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said addressing the issue had "proven to be more complicated" than the council expected, which had slowed down change, "but I think it needs addressing".

At tomorrow’s council meeting, councillors will decide whether to create a new rating category for residential short-term visitor accommodation for the 2020-21 financial year; incorporate changes in a rates review for the 2021-31 long-term plan; or maintain the status quo.

"At the moment, we have a situation where some accommodation businesses are rated as a business, like bed and breakfasts, and others being let as [residential short-term visitor accommodation] are simply rated as a house," Mr Hawkins said.

"This creates an uneven playing field, but also puts pressure on the supply of rental properties where these places otherwise could be let as flats year round."

Otago Motel Association president Alex Greenan, who owns Dunedin Palms Motel in High St, said the influx of residential short-term accommodation was doing more harm than simply taking a bite out of motel association members’ revenue — it was affecting the rental market and creating social issues in the city.

"We’ve got a housing crisis and at the same time we’re selling ex-rental homes to Airbnb people, so that is one more rental that can’t be sold as a rental. It’s a huge social impact — rents are going through the roof," Mr Greenan said.

"I don’t think the council understands the numbers involved. If the city’s residential short-term visitor accommodation properties were registered, then they would understand the scale of the problem."

The report to be tabled states council staff had compiled a list of 261 qualifying residential short-term visitor accommodation properties and about 100 properties that required further investigation.

Earlier reports to councillors stated there were up to 790 Airbnb-type properties in the city, but the criteria the council is now using has narrowed the scope.

It recommends councillors allow staff to review "all general rate differentials" in time for the 2021-31 long-term plan.

This would keep the status quo for the 2020-21 rating year while the council takes on a full review of all general rate differentials as part of the development of the 2021-31 plan.

Otago Property Investors Association president Kathryn Seque said as increasing pressure was expected from changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, "more and more landlords" were moving to the residential short-term visitor accommodation market "solely because they’ve got more control".

But the council had gathered limited information and had a limited understanding of the potential flow-on effects for the Dunedin economy if it "substantially" increased the rates for residential short-term visitor accommodation providers.

The association, having more than 1000 members in the Dunedin area, would "definitely suggest" keeping the status quo for the next 12 months "while an investigation can be done further into different groups it could affect".



More control for landlords?

Unregulated, random increases should be enough for now.

Lets also have a rates increase for those who hitchhike more than once a month, No other way to regulate it really can't register hitch hikers, and just to be fair and have an equal playing field a rates increase to those who pick up hitchhikers. Who's to say they are not an Uber type service and accepting payment under the table also. Uber drivers pay taxes. Uber passengers pay for the ride, so why should hitchhikers get off free.

Of course the motel industry is pushing for change! Maybe there should be regulation and fines in place stopping them increasing prices the way they do when events are on in Dunedin while we’re at it (it’s just damn embarrassing for the city) There’s not enough accommodation now so increasing rates for air BnB is going to do nothing but reduce it. Maybe it’s healthy for the motel/hotel industry to have a bit of an alternative options for visitors, may keep them honest. No I don’t have an air BnB or other interest.

Also...can’t have it both ways DCC, actually grant consent for decent size hotel or two to be built then look at reducing existing accomodation options. Oh that’s right, that was also heavily influenced by the big Local Hoteliers.

More taxes/rates for those trying to get ahead. Thanks DCC. The reason people sell rentals is that there are too many regulations to make it worthwhile. Technocrats do not understand the real world as they live in a bubble supported by our taxes/rates. They rarely venture outside as most could not survive and prosper in the real world.

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter