Share accommodation giant Airbnb hits back over damage claims


Airbnb has come under fire from critics who say short-term apartment users are causing damage and driving up house prices. But the company claims it's the target of groups acting as fronts for the hotel lobby.

Building manager at Melbourne's Watergate apartments, Marshall Delves, sees the downside of the online home share boom every day.

Many arriving guests are instructed simply to follow residents in through the front door security.

"You don't know who is coming into the building, " he said.

"They don't have anyone to meet them. They just turn up."

And after enjoying their stay and all the facilities on offer, the visitors are leaving ballooning maintenance bills for those who call the building their permanent home.

"It's not only the lifts, it's the carpets and the walls, the gouges in the corridors and all that sort of thing and that's the general wear and tear that they don't pay one extra cent for," he said.

"Every owner has to bear the cost."

Across the world, the increasingly-popular commercial short-stay industry is now experiencing a backlash.

Trish Burt from the Neighbours Not Strangers Coalition said she feared it would divide communities.

"They don't go together. They don't,"she said.

"Short-term holiday lets mixed with people going about their ordinary daily lives ... we basically have a fundamental incompatibility here."

The group claims the Airbnb boom is also fueling an already over-heated property market.

But according to  Airbnb, most of its hosts are hardly earning a fortune from renting out their homes, with the their average rental return little over $4,800 a year.

The company's Australian head, Brent Thomas, said for many it was simply a matter of providing income to make ends meet.

"Tens of thousands of Australian individuals and families are making some supplemental income to use for really important things like paying their mortgage ... paying their bills," he said.

Mr Thomas said there was little evidence to back up the claims of Airbnb opponents.

"We have seen community groups, so-called community groups, around the world often funded by the hotel lobby and engaging in these sort of scare campaigns."

But all parties agree there is room for more regulation as state governments consider new rules designed to ensure more harmony in the neighborhood.

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