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Airbnb reforms in spotlight as housing fight rages on

People are struggling to find rental accommodation because a lot of housing stock is being listed on sites such as Airbnb, Greens leader Adam Bandt says

The Airbnb app icon is seen on an iPad screen, Saturday. Image AAP

The Greens are calling on the federal government to put limits around short-term rentals such as Airbnb to boost supply and take pressure off rents.


Leader Adam Bandt says people are struggling to find accommodation in places like Byron Bay and Melbourne with everything being rented out on short-term sites.

"There have been proposals around how long you could potentially lease it out for, whether or not people should be entitled to tax breaks if they're not providing rentals that are a proper rate for locals," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday. 

The Victorian government is reportedly considering a levy of up to 7.5 per cent on short-stay accommodation platforms.

The Council to Homeless Persons said the levy needed to go towards social housing.

CEO Deborah Di Natale said the money would be an important first step to inject more fairness into the housing system.

She said it had the potential to raise more than $30 million a year but needed to be done in conjunction with broader reforms. 

"The short-stay levy can't occur in a vacuum," she said.

"Ending the housing crisis will require billions, not millions, in new investment."

Mr Bandt said if the federal government regulated Airbnb, it could then move to manage rents through a freeze and cap on increases.

"If we really want to fix the problem, then government has to look at soaring rents right across the country as well as in those places where it's biting hard," he said. 

Mr Bandt denied freezing rents would spook investors and diminish supply by sending landlords towards Airbnb and short-term renting, where they could charge higher rates and have fewer responsibilities towards tenants.

"I don't think that's what's going to happen because we need to have regulations that apply across the board," he said.

"People should be able to afford to rent a house, this is not a big ask."

Housing Minister Julie Collins has said the rules for Airbnb were an issue for states.

But she pointed to evidence services such as Airbnb and Stayz have an impact on rents in tourist areas.

The interim National Housing Supply and Affordable Council has made a raft of recommendations to boost rental stock and ease costs.

The Greens agreed to pass Labor's signature $10 billion housing investment fund this week after securing $3 billion for social and affordable housing on top of a $500 million yearly investment floor from the fund regardless of the return it makes. 

But they failed to secure a rental freeze, something state and territory governments have ruled out. 

Mr Bandt said the party would make it a key election issue.


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