Airbnb houses in Australia under microscope amid new vetting push


“People need to feel like they can trust our community, and that they can trust Airbnb when something does go wrong,” Mr Chesky said.

The company pledged to review the 7 million properties on its global platform by December 2020 to confirm the accuracy of its location, safety and quality standards. Properties that pass the test will be labelled as approved accommodation when users search the Airbnb platform.

But Tourism Accommodation Australia, which represents the hotel industry and has been critical of Airbnb, said this didn’t go far enough.

“Tellingly, Airbnb have not agreed to delist those properties that do not meet their own self-determined standards, but only to ‘label’ those ones that do,” Mr Johnson said.

Airbnb has pledged an overhaul of its security measures, citing a shooting at an Airbnb in California that left five dead. Credit:Alamy

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The company also announced a global hotline for reaching an Airbnb rapid-response team, allowing anyone including neighbours to raise the alarm if there is a concern about a rental. The hotline will roll out from December in the United States and then go global, the company said.

From next month, if an Airbnb guest books into a rental that has been flagged as inaccurate, they can be rebooked into an approval property or offered a refund.

The company also promised to stop unauthorised parties by rolling out screening tools for “high-risk” reservations globally from next year.

Airbnb Australia directed the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to Mr Chesky’s email statement when asked for comment on the impact of the rules on Australian businesses.

Regulators continue to grapple with the short-term accommodation space in terms of taxation, community standards and safety. Airbnb confirmed last month it was handing data from 190,000 property owners and hosts to the Australian Taxation Office to ensure income from bookings was not hidden.

The NSW government has been working to tighten regulation of short-term rentals over the past year, consulting on legislation for tighter controls and for stopping empty homes from being used as Airbnb properties for more than 180 days a year.

Bnbguard, a consultancy that helps strata schemes and owners’ corporations control and stop unwanted short-term rentals in buildings, said conversations about regulation were too “one-size fits all” and did not appreciate that different communities had different concerns about the sector.

A permit system for hosts would give councils flexibility and ensure short-term rental operators were registered for safety and transparency, Bnbguard founder Reuben Schwarz said.

“If you’re going to do this, you’re making money from it, you should get a permit for it,” he said.

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