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University of Queensland Study Finds Minimal Influence of Airbnb on Rent Increases

A University of Queensland report suggests that there is little evidence to indicate that short-stay providers like Airbnb are responsible for the worsening rental affordability in Queensland.

Commissioned by the Queensland government to investigate the impact of short-stay rental accommodation (STRA) on the rental market, the report also asserts that there is no evidence supporting the necessity of statewide STRA restrictions, as no correlation was found between areas with higher STRA presence and significant rent increases.

In the City of Brisbane, short-term accommodation providers have encountered a 65 percent increase in rates. Local council authorities cite this measure as a potential solution to the city’s housing crisis, while the report on STRA’s begs to differ.

University of Queensland Report

The Queensland government engaged the University of Queensland to assess the market situation, revealing that there were 20,000 short-term rentals in Queensland, with approximately 11,000 serving as permanent residences.

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In these cases, householders rent out a room or granny flat on Airbnb while still residing on the property. The majority of STRA, approximately two-thirds, were concentrated in the south-eastern region. The findings indicate that although short-term rentals did have some impact on limiting housing for long-term rentals, they remained relatively minimal.

Key findings from the report include the absence of an increase in the proportion of dwellings being used for STRA between 2018 and 2023.

Most STRA properties were located in tourist areas such as Port Douglas, Noosa, and the Whitsundays.

The report also highlighted the positive economic impact of STRA on the state, which included providing travellers with a wider range of rental accommodation choices, enabling landlords to diversify into the short-term rental market. They also allow local residents to establish home businesses and generate income through homestays or renting out a room or part of their house.

Additionally, it catered to people staying near hospitals for medical treatments, those relocating from interstate or overseas, and workers on temporary job assignments.

According to the study, a 10 percent increase in the overall count of short-term rental listings could potentially lead to rent price fluctuations within the range of 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent, which is fairly negligible.

In contrast, a 10 percent expansion in the total number of houses could result in a significant drop in rental prices, ranging from one percent to two percent.

This suggests that Airbnb’s impact on rental price increases is negligible, while the lack of housing stock significantly contributes to the housing and rental crisis. The solution, therefore, lies in the construction of more residential dwellings.

Impact on Noosa

Noosa has the highest proportion of its residential stock being used for STRA, with around two percent of existing housing stock serving this purpose.

Noosa was the first council in Queensland to regulate STRA, primarily in response to a local housing crisis that saw rents increase by an average of 51 percent over the five years leading up to 2023.

In 2022, the council introduced local laws stipulating that STRA on platforms like Airbnb required council approval to operate. This was done in an effort to free up accommodation for long-term rentals and to reduce complaints related to noise, parties, parking, and garbage.

To date, changes in local laws governing the STRA market have only resulted in 60 dwellings transitioning from the short-term market to the long-term market, indicating that the restrictions on STRA have had a negligible impact.

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