Very accommodating

SOUTHERN accommodation providers are among 400-plus people to have addressed a Parliamentary inquiry into the impact of websites such as Airbnb.

Gaynor and David Clarke operate Cape Howe Cottages and have told the Inquiry into Short-Stay Accommodation their sole income is from their six cottages at Lowlands Beach.

They submit that Airbnb increased competition, and provided an operating cost advantage, to unregulated hosts.

The Clarkes explain they had little option but to list on Airbnb as it had a lower commission charge and maximised the online visibility of their cottages.

“Our experience is that guests booking through the likes of Airbnb are less likely to follow house rules such as turning up with or ‘smuggling’ in extra non-paying guests, bringing dogs when we do not allow pets, booking more than one cottage for large groups causing disturbances for other guests and neighbours, leaving the property in a dirty state, being disrespectful of our property, arriving late after reception has closed and checking out late,” they submit.

“We have witnessed bad behaviour, suffered physical threats of violence, have had to evict guests or refuse them entry, all whilst being held to ransom over the threat of bad reviews or publicity.”

They argue that “some degree” of regulation should be imposed on Airbnb properties.

Jennifer Wilcox of the Tree Top Walk Motel in Walpole observes that some home owners let their properties out on Airbnb while waiting for a sale.

She says Airbnb has not affected business but that it adds “virtually nothing” to the community.

The CEOs of Denmark’s and Albany’s chambers of commerce Liz Jack and Michael Clark jointly argue that home owners advertising on websites should be registered with their municipality.

Airbnb inquiry WA
Liz Jack sees upsides to accommodation websites, but warns town planning fixes are needed. Photo: Chris Thomson

They acknowledge that Airbnb has upsides, including generating income for resident and absentee home owners.

“In the Shire of Denmark, absentee ownership is high, upwards of 42 per cent of our total rate base, with properties being rented for tourism and family visits,” they submit.

“All these properties require maintenance and bring economic benefits to our community through the retail and building sector.”

They assert that if traditional stays keep being disrupted, town planners must help transform large commercial accommodation into accommodation that may include affordable or over-55s housing.

Chief City of Albany planner Paul Camins considers that share economy stays can diversify the stock of tourist accommodation.

“Furthermore, the City of Albany is cognisant of the role that non-traditional holiday accommodation can have in meeting accommodation demand in high demand periods,” he explains.

But he warns that more people are investing in multiple residential buildings and transforming them into short-term accommodation.

Denmark-based Nationals MLA Terry Redman is one of five State MPs participating in the Inquiry, which is set to report by June 27.

Categories: Albany, Denmark

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