New York bans Airbnb, will Australia follow suit?

NEW York's Governor has signed off on new laws which introduce hefty fines aimed at Airbnb operators in the Big Apple.

The news comes as the company reportedly ramps up a campaign in Australia aimed at securing Federal Government intervention to prevent such laws being introduced here.

In Australia while the ride-sharing app Uber has attracted plenty of attention and caused widespread debate Airbnb has flown largely under the radar. 

However, in July last year Business Insider reported the company was hiring lobbyists in an effort to secure federal government intervention to get a single set of nation wide laws that regulate the short term stay sector.

"In some places, hosts have contacted their local council and were unable to receive clear and consistent guidance on whether or not hosting is a permissible activity, suggesting that councils themselves are confused," an Airbnb spokesman told Insider.

Queensland was cited as one of the better states for people to set up short-stay accommodation using the online share economy, while NSW where some operators have been threatened with million dollar fines, was said to be less friendly. 

However much like the taxi-Uber debate the new development has left some players unhappy. 

In a submission to the Federal Government ahead of the 2016-17 Federal Budget Tourism Accommodation Australia argued that the unregulated accommodation sector was robbing taxpayers. 

"The impact of unregulated accommodation on Australian government budgets is likely to be threefold," CEO Carol Giuseppi wrote in the submission. 

"First, through the suspected tax avoidance associated with the lack of transparency around operators of unregulated short-term accommodation.

"Secondly due to the different tax treatment that applies to short-term accommodation provided via residential properties.

"Thirdly, as a consequence of the competitive interests impact on the traditional, tax-paying hotel sector. 

"Tourism Accommodation Australia noted that New York City's Independent Budget Office found that Airbnb rentals are to blame for a recent decrease in tax receipts paid by hotels."

It's that impact along with widespread complaints that Airbnb exacerbates issues relating to a lack of affordable housing that prompted the New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to act, Buzzfeed reports. 

The laws introduced there ban homeowners from letting out a property for more than 30 days if they are not present and put in place "fees' of up to $7500 if the regulation is breached. 

There are presently more than 300 properties available for rent on Airbnb on the Sunshine Coast, 114 in Toowoomba, 167 in Ipswich, 66 in Mackay, 29 in Gladstone, 27 in Bundaberg, 27 in Gympie, more than 300 on the Fraser Coast, 58 in Lismore and 25 in Grafton. 

One foreseeable issue for local councils is that in many cases hotel operators pay additional infrastructure charges and approval fees when they file development applications.

However, the company may be able to rely on support from one very influential Australian - PM Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull praised the app when he was Communications Minister saying: ""added more than 10,000 rooms to Sydney's holiday rental market, without a single brick being laid and planning permit being approved," Mashable reports. 

"In seven years, Airbnb has added more than one million rooms globally compared to the century-old Hilton chain's 700,000 hotel rooms."

Airbnb has been contacted for comment, as has the Prime Minister's office. 



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