The public debate around the lawfulness, or not, of Airbnb is heating up, and it appears there is no one clear answer, according to Unit Owners Association of Queensland.
President, Wayne Stevens, said the answer lies in the language used.
“Has it been noticed how Airbnb, and others with significant commercial interest, are keen to refer to the ‘sharing’ economy and ‘mum-and-dad’ investors seeking a modest additional income,” he said.
“What is not being disclosed is the vast number of large scale multimillion dollar commercial operators, not just Airbnb, who rely heavily on the unlawful use of residential premises not being exposed.”
He said occupation is the determinant.
“At the heart of the issue is whether or not the owner or lease of the residential premises remains resident while the ‘guests’ occupy a spare room or two — just like family coming to visit.
“Such genuine sharing; via Airbnb or similar platforms, where the guest and the host share the residential premises could possibly be lawful — but only just.
“A caveat is that if the sharing involves any commercial transaction then the use of the premises, or part thereof such as a room, would be deemed a commercial use as opposed to a residential use.”
Mr Stevens said the situation is “far more dire” for apartment dwellers who share the use and upkeep costs of common property facilities.
“How do residents identify a rowdy mob having a poolside BBQ as legitimate guests of an occupier not trespassers? What authority does an interstate owner have to share the common body corporate facilities in such a manner for a 10hr pool party for commercial gain?
“Serious issues arise from unlawful use of residential premises whereby the owner is absent and the whole of the premises is commercialised for short-term letting.”
Mr Stevens said therefore that short term accommodation provided in the majority of residential strata premises is unlawful.
He said that more than 60 per cent of Airbnb listings are for vacant whole premises
“And the proportion is growing,” he added.