Airbnb has hit back at Byron Mayor Simon Richardson.
Airbnb has hit back at Byron Mayor Simon Richardson.

Air BnB smashed avocado jibe "just a bit of silliness”

Update 5.17pm: BYRON Shire Mayor Simon Richardson has responded to Airbnb's statement saying he doesn't believe he ever directly blamed them for housing unaffordability in the shire.

"It is certainly a component but it's not the biggest aspect," Cr Richardson said.

"It's a small slice of the pie, it's far smaller than negative gearing, it's far smaller than all the tax breaks that are given for someone who has their fifth house as opposed to someone who has their first house, it is far behind the fact that the housing boom in Melbourne and Sydney have made so much overflow investments into places like Byron."

"Obviously holiday letting, every house that turns from long term letting or a resident living in it to a short term where no local lives in it, is obviously one domestic dwelling off the market."

"It plays a part in unaffordability but it's a minor one and I don't think I have ever said otherwise."

Cr Richardson went on to say "the smashed avocado is just a bit of silliness".

"I put out an olive branch a good year ago to see if they wanted to work out some voluntary contribution in the Byron Shire as a test case nationally to start generating some revenue at least back to the community," Cr Richardson said.

"Even though there were supportive words in the end it was no and really I have had no personal communication with them since."


Update 2.45pm: BYRON Shire Councillor Michael Lyon has released a statement saying Airbnb's shot at Mayor Simon Richardson "shows how out of touch Airbnb is with the communities that its multi-billion dollar empire was built on".

Cr Lyon, who recently started a working group to deal with issues relating to Airbnb and other forms of holiday letting, said it was the role of councillors to stick up for their communities.

"The 'host community' (Airbnb) refers to is primarily made up of out-of-towners using investment properties for holiday letting that could instead house our locals," he said.

"This has impacted on affordability and availability and the stats to prove this can be shown in an email or on the back of a napkin if Brent likes, they are real and they are hurting our community. 75.9% of Airbnb listings in Byron Shire are entire homes. 53.1% of hosts on Airbnb have more than one listing on the site. These are not people trying to make ends meet.

"Byron Shire Council is not targeting or worried about hosts who live in their own home and rent out a room.

"We are trying to address the damning situation whereby entire homes listed on Airbnb and others are several times higher in number than the number of rental properties available for long-term tenants. 

"We are happy to work in good faith with Airbnb to come up with solutions for individuals letting out rooms in their own homes.

"But Airbnb cannot continue to deny the real and devastating impact their negligence of social responsibility has had on our Byron community and I find their comparisons to "smashed avocados" and "back-of-the-napkin analysis" insensitive, completely out of touch and flying in the face of the real situation here."


Original story 9am: AIRBNB has hit back at Byron Mayor Simon Richardson, saying blaming Airbnb for housing unaffordability is "as absurd as blaming smashed avocados - it simply doesn't stack up".

Cr Richardson has been highly critical of Airbnb in recent weeks, calling for the company to be a "responsible corporate citizen".

"The proliferation of unauthorised short-term holiday accommodation is threatening the fabric of our community and in some areas it is getting to the point where long-term residents don't know anyone in their street anymore," Cr Richardson said.

"Short-term letting significantly reduces the amount of permanent and affordable rental accommodation."

But Airbnb's head of public policy, Brent Thomas, has hit back at the mayor.

"We've enjoyed a strong relationship with Mayor Richardson in the past, and believe that he has Byron's best interests at heart," he said.

"But this latest commentary from the council is disappointing and deeply hurtful to our host community, the overwhelming majority of whom are good neighbours.

"At a time when the cost-of-living is sky high and wages growth in the gutter, it would be unhelpful to stifle home sharing when so many locals - hosts and small business owners - rely on it as an economic lifeline.

"Put simply, blaming Airbnb for housing unaffordability is as absurd as blaming smashed avocados - it simply doesn't stack up.

"Council's back-of-the-napkin analysis of Airbnb's alleged impact on housing affordability is inaccurate and not grounded in the cold, hard facts.

"We would encourage the council to sit down and talk with us in good faith about how we can craft fair rules for home sharing that benefit everyone in the community."

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