Supporting communities  |  13 Jan 2020

Christchurch and Banks Peninsula residents are being asked to help shape a decision on the best option for managing home-share accommodation in our district. Councillor Mike Davidson outlines why people should join the conversation.

The growth of online booking platforms like Airbnb and Bookabach has changed the way we holiday.

When I was growing up, people going on holiday tended to stay in motels, campgrounds or family baches.

These days, people going on holiday are increasingly choosing to stay in home-share accommodation where they can live like a local.

Councillor Mike Davidson is Chair of the Council's Urban Development and Transport Committee.

While the short-term letting of spare rooms or empty houses over holiday periods is not new, the scale of the activity has skyrocketed in recent years.

Online booking platforms have made it easy for people to rent out spare rooms or whole houses to out-of-town visitors on a casual basis. There are now dozens of websites offering accommodation in private homes in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

In the past 12 months alone, there were more than 4200 listings on the Airbnb and Bookabach websites for home-share accommodation in the Christchurch district.

About half of those listings were for whole residential units.

It is becoming increasingly common for residential units to be bought to be used as full-time guest accommodation.  In some cases, newly built residential units, particularly in central Christchurch, are being marketed to investors for this purpose.

Current rules

Under the current District Plan rules, property owners in most residential zones are only permitted to rent out entire properties as accommodation if they have a resource consent.

In rural zones, whole properties can only be rented out without resource consent if they are part of a farm stay or associated with a rural tourism activity.

However, the District Plan rules are frequently flouted and difficult to police because there is no register of home-share accommodation providers.

What happens elsewhere?

A number of cities internationally, and in New Zealand, have introduced or are looking at introducing new regulations to more effectively manage the growth of home-share accommodation.

A common approach is to require some form of registration.

Another common approach is to limit the number of days that whole units can be booked.

New York bans all bookings less than 30 days long. Barcelona caps the number of home-share accommodation licences issued and is currently not issuing any new ones.

Some cities have restrictions on the location of listings or the type of units that can be listed.

Christchurch City Council, like many other Councils around New Zealand, is looking at how it can manage home-share accommodation more effectively.

Soon you’ll be invited to give initial feedback on a range of options we’re exploring through the District Plan.

The reason we are considering making changes is that there are costs and benefits associated with the growth in home-share accommodation.

Costs and benefits

On the plus side, visitors staying in home-share accommodation bring money into local communities, support local shops and may help to create hospitality jobs.

Data from AirDNA suggests that home-share accommodation hosts in Christchurch earned $50 million in the year up to August 2019.

Home-share accommodation provides people with an opportunity to supplement their income and potentially makes home ownership more affordable for those who might otherwise struggle to pay a mortgage.

However, on the flip side, it may also be inflating house prices and rents in some areas.

There are concerns too that longer-term and larger-scale use of residential units for guest accommodation may result in a loss of amenity for neighbours beyond what could be expected from long-term tenants and owner-occupants.

Having a constant stream of out-of-town visitors living next door to you can be disruptive. While problems such as excessive noise, litter and competition for parking can also arise with long-term neighbours, they are more likely to occur and are more difficult to resolve where the occupants are transient, and the units are let frequently.

Impact on community ties

In residential neighbourhoods where there is a relatively high proportion of guest accommodation units, neighbours may not have an opportunity to get to know each other, and as a consequence we may see a reduction in that close community ties that we often rely on in times of adversity, such as after the Canterbury earthquakes.

Residents’ feeling of safety may also be diminished when higher density, large scale or more frequent home-share accommodation activities brings a higher proportion of strangers into their neighbourhood.

The commercial accommodation sector has also raised concerns with us about the disparity in the way they and the home-share accommodation sectors are treated. They believe the home-share accommodation sector has a significant competitive advantage with respect to compliance costs and rules.

Our challenge is to come up with ways we can maximise the benefits of the home-share accommodation sector while continuing to manage any potential negative effects.

Have your say

We want you to be part of the conversation, to share your ideas, thoughts and experiences.

On Thursday, 16 January we will begin an initial round of public engagement on five options we are exploring for managing the home-share accommodation sector.

You will find all the details on Have Your Say.  Please take the time to give your feedback.