Airbnb is a business name that just keeps popping up. I’d heard a lot about it, but didn’t actually know any Canberrans who had used it or rented out their own place to travellers.
For those who have never heard of Airbnb, it’s a website for people to rent out their own homes or apartments to those who are looking for a place to stay. Airbnb has over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. Canberra currently has 270+ rentals available ranging from a $39 per night accommodation in Queanbeyan (however, one of the hosts is vegan and requires guests to be at least vegetarian and consumption of meat, fish, and eggs is not allowed), to a two-bedroom renovated terrace in Dickson for $300 per night (no rules about food listed!).
My first thought with Airbnb was along the lines of potential horror stories. What if the house is really, really dodgy and dirty?! What if you have to share your room with the owner’s pet iguana?! What if there’s a murderer in the closet?! The same horror thoughts extended to people who rent out their own place to travellers. What if all their stuff gets stolen?! What if guests go through their underwear drawer?! What if they leave a body in the bathroom?! I put out a call on social media asking for people’s experiences and an overwhelming majority said they had had really good experiences with Airbnb. Almost all said that as long as you do your research and thoroughly check the reviews then you’ll be fine. No one reported any dodgy houses, no iguanas and no murderers.
One person I spoke to did have a pretty bad story. She was in Rome and found that the apartments she had booked did not exist and neither did the street they were supposed to be on. She was especially unlucky as that particular week there were an extra four million people in Rome for the canonisation of two popes so her and her partner were pretty much homeless for a week.
I spoke to one person who rents out her one bedroom apartment in Canberra. She lives there the majority of the time, but when it’s booked out she stays at her partner’s house and takes personal items (photos, tax documents etc) with her. I can also report that she has had great guests so far, nothing has been stolen, no underwear has been sifted through, and no bodies left in the bathroom.
I’ve seen articles over the last few months debating whether Airbnb is a good thing or not, and if it will destroy the hotel industry. Unless there’s only one hotel in a city and an abundance of Airbnb rooms, I don’t think our hotel chains have anything to worry about. Accommodation can be scarce in Canberra, especially on parliamentary sitting weeks, so I think Airbnb is probably a good thing for our city. If all the hotels are booked out, Airbnb can step in and provide affordable accommodation.
However, some people make the argument that renting out your property via Airbnb is a way for owners to dodge tax by not declaring the cash they make from Airbnb. Others argue that it will destroy the economy as it’s not contributing to employment.
It’s definitely something that will be difficult to regulate and may rain on some parades once such rules and requirements are implemented, but in the meantime it appears that those who use it are raking in the benefits.
Have you ever stayed in Airbnb accommodation, or do you rent out your place?