Airbnb ‘rule book’ proposed, but it’s still not enough

Airbnb ‘rule book’ proposed, but it’s still not enough

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A holiday headache could be on the cards for New South Wales’ apartments if a controversial new program proposed by Airbnb is implemented, warns a leading strata management company.

Ace Body Corporate Management says there is good reason to be concerned that apartment owners aren’t getting a fair deal under the new program, and there is serious doubt about how Airbnb will keep up its end of the bargain to protect communities.

Its concerns come in the wake of Airbnb’s recent presentation of the ‘Friendly Buildings Program’ to several strata management companies in NSW.

The program proposes to allow owners’ corporations to access details, place caps and take a cut of Airbnb’s earnings. It also proposes the implementation on a rule book and booking insurance. The program would require Airbnb hosts and their owners’ corporation to sign an agreement that includes the rule book for home sharing in the building, as well as insurance of $1 million for every booking,

The program has been welcomed by some experts, but Ace Body Corporate Management say there are still too many security and liability risks for owners’ corporations.

Ace Body Corporate Management state manager Andrew Jakes said he has witnessed the effect short-term lets have had on local property owners.

“Airbnb and other short-term letting services pose serious challenges to owners’ corporations, and we’re adamant that very few owners will see some basic rules and a percentage deal as a program that adequately looks after their community’s best interests.”

Mr Jakes said the biggest concern of owners of properties he manages is the threat short-term letting poses to building security.

“Several of our managers recounted stories of recent theft, occurring from owners leaving swipe cards and keys in letterboxes for their Airbnb guests.”

“Over the past year or so, instances of oversized padlocks, or ‘mini safes’ being placed on bike racks or hand rails outside of buildings have grown and we don’t see that this program offers any solution with regard to this problem.”

“Once inside the building, thieves can target multiple apartments, quickly transforming this into a huge issue for owners’ corporations to deal with.”

Mr Jakes said the promise of a rule book and Airbnb’s willingness to better regulate hosts looks great on paper, but owners are rightfully concerned that help will not be available when things go wrong.

“From an owner’s perspective, Airbnb needs to have a solid reporting channel from owners to service administrators in case of any mishaps, and we’re not confident that’s the case,” he said.

“We have seen too many instances of Airbnb’s taking a ‘not our problem’ stance when it comes to issues that arise from their home-sharing platform.

“Overcrowded apartments is one such issue that comes to mind given that Airbnb is reluctant to punish hosts for their guests behaving unlawfully.

“If owners’ corporations are going to open up their communities to an Airbnb ‘free for all’ of sorts, they need a better deal when it comes to protecting their own.”

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