The Maori Council has called for the government to intervene against short term rental platforms such as Airbnb, to combat soaring rentals in the rental housing shortage. Putting aside the general undesirability of controls in any activity, would this alleviate the situation?
Airbnb and its like were designed for the tourist market. Tourism is currently dead world-wide so presumably the occupants are New Zealand tourists, which the government has encouraged.
As our hotels are being filled with quarantine arrivals, and the lesser quality ones with self-afflicted alcoholic and drug addicted bums scraped from the street at great cost to the taxpayer, compounded by the reported damage they do, I don’t believe the Council’s proposal addresses the issue.
Prior to Covid the same clamour arose in Edinburgh 18 months ago, for the same reason.
Once rated Britain’s most loved city, Edinburgh become a nightmare for its occupants with wall-to-wall tourists. Furthermore, thanks to Airbnb etc the rental housing market took a huge supply hit at the expense of locals.
As regular visitors to Scotland, in recent years we’d drive across from our Glasgow home to look at the latest National Gallery’s exhibition. But we gave up a couple of years back as it had become like London’s Oxford Street in its heyday, that is absurdly crowded.
In an effort to recover their city for its occupants, three years back the Barcelona City Council banned short term Airbnb type stays in flats. As in Venice, the aim was to confine tourism to the affluent. To that end they also banned new hotel construction to create a demand-supply imbalance inducing rising hotel room rents only the rich could afford.
Furthermore, they actively policed it, with teams of inspectors regularly waking up flat occupants in the early hours to see if they were short term occupants.
Similar constraints were introduced in Amsterdam with the same objectives.
Pre-Covid we did not have a tourism-induced crowding problem, rather it was a housing shortage. The Maori Council should focus on that for which as I wrote on this Blog last year, there’s a quick solution.
That is to plan whole new state house suburbs on Auckland’s and Wellington’s fringes then contract Chinese construction companies to quickly knock them up. They’ll fly in thousands of workers who will happily do twelve hour, seven day weeks, living in on-site barracks. After say three months’ stints, those tradesmen will return home happy with huge sums of money from this one-off opportunity to elevate their own home living standards.
The Chinese have an amazing ability to construct large scale projects incredibly quickly, to a high standard and a great deal cheaper than we can. We willingly import their quality cheap goods so why not extend it to services?
Our housing issue is a western world problem and the fact is, it’s of such a scale it cannot be resolved by our existing building industry, which lacks the manpower.
Why did this situation arise here and in Britain, and some other western nations?
With Britain and New Zealand there were common denominators. First, large scale migration which apart from its housing consequence, has been a huge boon for both countries.
Then cultural factors such as the practise of kids leaving home in their late teens to go flatting. In Italy by contrast, they leave home only to marry, often in their 30s. This was compounded in Britain by achieving Tony Blair’s goal of 50% of all kids going to universities or in many cases therefore, flatting. To attain that British universities introduced numerous useless joke degree courses without any intellectual or academic element, exactly as here with fat studies, maori wonderfulness and the ilk.
Then there’s the ongoing world-wide shift to large cities, not merely for economic reasons but as much for rastly superior life-styles. Add to that the growth in single or couple childless households, something virtually unheard of two generations back.
Use the Chinese and whole new townships could be quickly built, including community halls, retail premises, schools etc etc. It’s really not a hard issue to resolve.
When the government announced its latest state-house building programme there was criticism of creating slums. Really! I grew up in a state house suburb and it wasn’t a slum. Without exception people were house-proud with vegetable gardens at the rear and lawns and flower gardens in the front.
The critics say the state houses should be built amidst middle-class homes. That’s naïve as neither faction would welcome it, people always opting to live with their social and economic peers.