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:: Holiday and short-term rentals
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The lack of tourism and economic data for holiday and short term rental properties has meant that policymakers at both local and state government levels have underestimated the contribution from this segment of the accommodation market.

The best estimate for the number of holiday properties available for short-term rental in NSW comes from economic researchers BIS Shrapnel. In a report in 1996 titled The Holiday Home Market in Australia, BIS Shrapnel estimated there were approximately 183,000 holiday homes in NSW, with about half rented out when not in use by their owners, making approximately 90,000 holiday rental properties.

More specific data has been hard to come by, partly due to the fragmented nature of the holiday rentals market. Some real estate agencies have just a few holiday rentals on their books while others look after a portfolio of hundreds. Many holiday rentals do not have professional management at all but are self-managed by their owners.

As part of its efforts to protect the tradition of holiday rentals, REINSW conducted a survey of agencies that manage holiday rental properties. The survey found that the agencies managed an average of 84 holiday rentals properties each, which provided an average gross rental income of $1.2 million for the agency each year.

The survey demonstrated the impact that holiday rentals have on the jobs of both agents and tradespeople. The survey found an average of 2.4 full time equivalent jobs per agency to manage holiday rentals, while each agency also spent an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars annually on tradespeople and other services to support the holiday rentals properties.

The holiday rentals properties managed by the agents had an average of six beds per property (for example, two double beds and two single beds in a beach house). Expanded to the 90,000 holiday rental properties in NSW, that’s a potential capacity of approximately 540,000 beds per night where tourists can sleep – in fully-furnished, self-contained properties for an average tariff of below $150 per night.

Holiday rentals have come under fire in recent years due to criticism that occupants are noisy and cause disruption – accusations that are rarely backed with hard evidence. The hotels industry has also been criticising holiday rentals, which compete for the tourism dollar, especially in NSW coastal towns. Following a number of legal cases, some local councils have used planning laws to effectively ban holiday rentals in their area.

Based on the results of the REINSW survey, any moves to further restrict holiday rentals could be devastating for tourism capacity particularly during school holidays, as well as businesses and tradespeople that depend on this source of income.

“These are important preliminary findings that clearly demonstrate the significant benefits generated by holiday and short term rental properties,” said Justin Butterworth, Chairman of the REINSW Holiday and Short Term Rentals Chapter.

He believes further research now needs to be done to examine the impact on local economies from the money spent by tourists staying in holiday rentals. Anecdotal evidence shows that many towns rely heavily on holiday rentals to attract tourists, particularly at key times of the year such as summer in coastal regions or winter in the Blue Mountains.

In the meantime, REINSW continues to make representations to the NSW Government to ensure that holiday rentals remain a viable option in the future.