To Airbnb or not to Airbnb: is it ethical to rent property to holidaymakers during a housing crisis?

To Airbnb or not to Airbnb: is it ethical to rent property to holidaymakers during a housing crisis?

It’s a question individual owners in Australia are asking themselves – but one that may be better directed to governments and corporates

Karla Costello has seen the headlines.

More than 50,000 Queenslanders waiting on the social housing register. A Brisbane real estate agency urging landlords to increase rents by more than double the inflation rate. The state’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, hosting a housing summit in a bid to solve a residential property shortage that shows no signs of abating.

Costello appreciates how fortunate she is to have a roof over her head. She also sleeps better at night knowing her Gold Coast investment property is no longer a transit lounge for holidaymakers.

“It was very difficult to watch our apartment sitting empty when we didn’t have guests,” she says of the two-bedroom property in beachside Miami that she rented via Airbnb for more than two years.

“I’m someone who makes decisions every day about how my actions as an individual affect the world and I’m not sure that was a great result for our local community. I even asked my partner if we could let the homeless man who lived on The Esplanade stay in it on the nights it wasn’t booked.”

Costello and her partner no longer need to have such discussions.

After returning their property to the long-term rental market, she has been spared the internal conflict she knows would have come from hearing the Queensland government this week announce it would launch an investigation into how the short-term letting market is affecting the state’s housing crisis.

It came after the Queensland Greens introduced a bill that would tax short-stay landlords an annual 5% levy on the value of their property. Meanwhile, Brisbane City Council has increased rates for short-term accommodation properties by 50%, asking residents to “dob in” neighbours suspected of advertising on platforms such as Airbnb and Stayz.

A lot of questions are being asked about short-term rentals of late but there is another that rarely gets raised in a society such as ours – is it ethical to rent out your property on Airbnb during a housing crisis?

The individual versus society

As executive director of The Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff is well qualified to look at the phenomenon of short-term rentals through an ethical lens.

Continue reading…

This is an excerpt from an article by Dwayne Grant published earlier by The Guardian.

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