The phenomenon Airbnb

The Airbnb phenomenon has revolutionised the tourism industry. People no longer search for hotels, they look for apartments or houses, where they can feel at home. When the company started in 2008, their slogan was “come live with the locals” and that was exactly what they have done ever since. Residential strata complexes, houses or townhouses have been turned into instant “hotels”.  It can be very beneficial but it can also bring a lot of problems.

Why chose Airbnb

Without a doubt, there are positive aspects of these short-term rentals. For example, for families, it can be a great option because they would be staying in an apartment or house, where they could prepare some meals and do some washing, etc. It is also more affordable than paying for a hotel because you will have more rooms and other facilities.  For those who want to stay away from the “tourist crowds”, staying in a residential area “with the locals” will also allow them to experience the place differently and visit areas they probably wouldn’t otherwise.

An extra source of income

For the owners, it can be a good source of income. If the property is well kept, located in a good area and has a high occupancy rate, it can be more profitable than the regular long-term rental. However, the owners must invest in providing quality and maintaining a good reputation. Providing all amenities guests require may be a cost, but it could translate in great reviews and more and more guests. The company has a system of classification rewarding these hosts. They call them Super Hosts which automatically make them preferred among guests.

The problems

But the Airbnb phenomenon can also be a problem. These properties have increasingly made the news for all the wrong reasons and people have started to look at them with some concerns. In strata complexes, the Airbnb phenomenon may pose a security issue. The constant influx of strangers accessing common areas may cause some concern to residents and Body Corporate, also any damage these strangers may cause to common property and who will ultimately be responsible for it.

Most Airbnb users will do the right thing, respect the properties they stay in and the people who live around them, but unfortunately, a small minority won’t and we have some serious situations happening.

This week, someone posted photos of an Airbnb apartment in the suburb I used to live that was completely vandalised. Residents claim they were petrified by the intense noise and the destruction that went on that weekend. This has been a massive issue with this type of rental properties. Although, most of them clearly state “no parties allowed”, the fact is that a lot of groups hire these places to host massive parties, some even organised through social media and the results are disastrous.

Some Strata complexes pass by-laws that ban Airbnb from their complex because they can’t continue to live with the damage caused by this sort of activities. Others are looking into implementing similar rules and future may look grim for this industry. Owners have to pay thousands on expensive repairs and may have to change their business model also causing loss of income.

No quick fix or simple solution

It is a very complex problem that has no quick fix or simple solution.  But certainly something has to be done to make the system safer for everyone. No doubt the old regulation book could help, but wouldn’t guarantee to be a solution. The current system has rules and people still breach them and cause all sorts of problems.

A review system could also be helpful. The same way guests rate their hosts and search for the best-rated ones when they want to rent their next holiday rental, hosts should rate their guests. This is already possible, but a lot of hosts choose not to leave a comment about their guests and rate their behaviour. A blacklist system, where bad guests could be reported. There is no quick fix for this problem and the solution is not as simple as “black and white”. The phenomenon Airbnb has grown substantially over the years and to make it safe and sustainable we need to consider all factors involved; the security of the residents, the certainty for hosts and punishment for disorderly guests.