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Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

Surge of ex-Airbnbs hits rental market

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There has been a large increase in the number of properties available for rent in the Byron Shire, as former Airbnb and short-term holiday letting properties start returning to the long-term residential market.

Local housing economist Thomas Keily describes the surge as ‘unprecedented.’

He told The Echo, ‘That label is getting bandied about a lot right now, but we’re talking about 500 properties in the Northern Rivers region in the last two weeks. That’s a 50 per cent increase on a year ago. Those numbers are substantial.

‘This is a trend we’re seeing in a number of popular tourism destinations. ‘Properties available for rent have increased 55 per cent in Cairns and 38 per cent in the Whitsundays,’ Mr Keily said.

Mr Keily cites rental data from real estate platform Domain, which shows that across the country, the number of rental properties has increased 20 per cent relative to a year ago, largely on the back of tourism hot-spots.

However, according to Domain economist Trent Wiltshire, there are a number of compounding factors working to create a looser rental market.

He says, ‘We’re seeing people are also moving back home and share houses are breaking up because people are worried about their jobs or struggling to pay their rent’.

‘People have also likely gone back home overseas as well. In combination, we’re certainly seeing more rentals hitting the market.

‘This is probably going to put some downward pressure on rents. While some renters are facing tough economic times at the moment, there’s some good news in that now might be a good time to get a good deal or renegotiate with your landlord,’ Mr Wiltshire said.

While Mr Keily acknowledges that the local market balance is moving back in favour of renters, he does not expect rents to fall overnight.

‘You’ve got to remember that the Byron Shire’s rental market is notorious, and until recently, was incredibly tight. Houses defined as “affordable” by community housing providers were practically non-existent.

‘The rental market is also a very stodgy market. People work on longer-term contracts and form emotional bonds with their places of residence. A shock like this will take a while to filter through the market.

‘However, yes, in the immediate term, rents are likely to fall. How far and for how long really depends on how long this crisis lasts. That’s anybody’s guess,’ Mr Keily said.


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12 COMMENTS

  1. The damage to residential amenity continues. Eight international backpackers going into an ex Airbnb advertised at $800 per week, $100 each, and they want to party each night. Ring the Police at any time of the day and then contact Council Enforcement.

  2. For all the greed rental properties owners, especially Air B&B owners, may you experience some much deserved financial pain too. The misery you landlords have created for the many workers and residents of Byron is insurmountable. Good hardworking people (who live week to week) that have had to put up with party houses next door or paying rents that are only afforded by a few is vile and disgusting.

    The hardest workers of the Byron shire have the least amount of income, and yet are gouged for the honour of paying your mortgages…..brace for the next 6 months !

  3. Sucked in AirBnB landholders! Up until recently I lived in Byron Shire for 15 years eventually pushed out of rental market due to lack of affordability for one individual and rentals being scarce because they’d turned into AirBnB by mostly money hungry landlords. And I’m not the only one, thousands of long term locals forced out of the area.
    So yeh Karma!

  4. And the wheel turns, as it always eventually does. Maybe the air of rancid capitalism will clear in the shire and even if for a brief moment, we’ll see each other clearly again. Flatten the curve indeed.

  5. Hopefully these latest events will bring rents back to a “realistic” not “opportunistic” level. Let’s bring back some fairness and decency to the market where renters and owners can negotiate a good deal for all!

  6. I feel for the people that take on an airbnb…will they be evicted for higher returns post covid? Don’t pay an airbnb if you can help it…they don’t have to pay their mortgage!! leave them empty or very very cheap to rent.

  7. So let’s get real here.. it’s short term.. as soon as this is up & done with, they’ll all be operating again. They are businesses like everything else that’s been interrupted, so has holiday accommodation.

    The very simple reality for those whom rent & want a long term home but can’t find one are exorbitant moving fees & cleaning fees for every move. That’s often going in & out.
    I look at this as an opportunistic group of entrepreneurs. It may serve some renters whom have a short term need. Others whom may be in need of a longer term home, taking on these situations are the ones whom are ill effected by this. Opportunism..at the expense of everyday people. Especially in our own community. It is what it is.

    Much love

  8. While there may be airbnb dwellings coming onto the residential rental market, none are at realistic prices, and certainly do not reflect the current climate under coronavirus, with so many of our residents finding themselves unemployed. Out of the 31 listed 3 bedroom rental houses with Domain for Byron, there are just nine listed at $600 per week or under. Among these, there are a number who are only offering just 3 month leases. Some also have two prices, one for the next three months, and then jumping back to ridiculous airbnb prices after that. Even in the under $600 per week bracket, these homes are still $150 more than the average rental price that these same dwellings would be in any other town, including in our capital cities. It is time to burst the Byron bubble and to acknowledge that tourism here is DEAD for the foreseeable future and take the needs of actual residents into account and that these airbnb homes, that USED to be residential homes, were listed at reasonable rents, not the over-inflated, ridiculous prices and lease options they are currently listed at. I am currently looking for a new home, with just 30 days notice to vacate,. with the new owner wanting vacant possession in 30 days, there is just NOTHING for me in all of Byron Shire that either suits my budget or my needs. It is time for Byron Bay to get real again, and recognise that our residents needs must be a priority now and into the future. It’s time to let go of the belief that the tourists will be flocking back here, no one is coming for a very long time. But our locals are still not able to find reasonable homes even with all these houses going back into the rental market.

  9. There is nothing short term about this situation. There is no snap back to normal, there is most likely a recession and possibly even a depression. Not to mention the psychological impact on what people will prioritise and feel safe doing out in the world eg. air travel. The places hardest hit will be tourism dependent communities like the shire.

    Opportunistic landlords better buckle up for a reality check, and to everyone else, we’ll get through this.

  10. YAY. Love this positive news… Death to Air BnB! It has destroyed so many communities world wide.
    More positive news about the effects of COVID 19 on our lives…great new column for the Echo?
    On the death list as well, Cruise ships- diverted for refugee & homeless housing? Polluted skies…imagine clean air in Beijing and other major polluted cities. What other positive outcomes could we expect from this? Pity it hasn’t squashed the development mania. Yet.

  11. Wow , the animosity towards Airbnb operators is sad . Realistically The Byron area is an International / Domestic Tourist destination, and many of you hard workers are employed, because this Tourism industry makes the area sucessful . Many businesses rely on these tourist visitors, they ( the tourists ) also need to be accommodated , so they stay and spend money and give the locals work.. Where would you like them to stay ? Large soulless resorts? At the cost to the environment ? Another town ?
    The issue is the cost of real estate in the Byron shire means those hardworking greedy landlords have to make a return on the millions they may have spent .to invest in this area. Yes , and the local government needs to make sure those Airbnb properties are properly managed to the expectations of the other ratepayers and locals. I personally believe they are doing a service to the area , by eliminating the need to create large scale accommodation to house all these tourists.This situation of less affordable housing for locals is everywhere,
    as real estate increases so do rents., mortgages are higher and costs are higher it all has a flow on effect. So blame the property prices ! Discuss with your council about building affordable dwellings for local workers, an eco suburb for local rentals, and make it Affordable !

  12. Jill Mc Crossin, the “large soulless resorts” that you describe have obtained development consent. Short term rental accommodation, commonly called Airbnb’s, in Byron Shire doe not have development consent. They are still an illegal and prohibited activity in residential zones if they do not have development consent.

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