Commercial Airbnb listings account for 15 per cent of properties in popular Sydney and Melbourne suburbs according to a report by AHURI, conducted by researchers from The University of NSW and Swinburne University of Technology.

The report, Technological disruption in private housing markets: the case of Airbnb, examines the extent to which short-term letting (STL) is contributing to housing affordability pressures, and highlights the most effective responses available to regulators.

The research identified that commercial Airbnb listings — whole dwellings that are available for more than 90 days each year — in both Sydney and Melbourne are concentrated in inner-city and beachside suburbs.

The report claims this reduces the availability of long term rentals and creates further affordability pressure in areas that are generally well-connected by public transport and within access to employment hubs, essential services and amenities.

In Sydney, commercial Airbnb listings are concentrated in the eastern suburbs, Darlinghurst and Manly. The research showed that in these suburbs Airbnb accounts for between 11.2 per cent and 14.8 per cent of all rental housing stock.

Bondi, one of the areas heavily populated with Airbnb properties

In Melbourne, commercial Airbnb listings cluster in Central Melbourne, Docklands, Southbank, Fitzroy and St Kilda, accounting for between 8.6 per cent and 15.3 per cent of rental housing stock, according to the report.

Dr Laura Crommelin, lead researcher at UNSW, said “As rental markets in Sydney and Melbourne are unaffordable for lower income renters, even a small reduction in available rental properties is concerning.

“For tenants living in the ‘high demand’ suburbs there could be an increased risk of having their lease terminated if the owner decides it is more profitable or convenient to list the property on Airbnb instead.”

Earlier this year, the NSW government released regulations to Airbnb where hosts can only rent out their homes for 180 days of the year in the greater Sydney area.

The report noted that compared to London, New York and Paris, Australian cities have more lenient regulation in place for short-term letting policies.

For home owners, the research identified a growing awareness that Airbnb hosting can be part of future property choices, with income used to fund extra consumption; mitigate housing costs; and to protect owners in the event of unexpected repairs or housing market downturns.

Dr Crommelin said “We found some evidence that Airbnb is reshaping the market for investment properties in Australia.

“For example, real estate agents have been cited claiming investors will pay a two to three per cent premium for properties that show a higher-yielding Airbnb income stream. Similarly, Airbnb property managers told us their businesses have been growing rapidly, as some investors are achieving better returns on short-term letting than long-term rental.”

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