Tuesday, March 24, 2020

One way to solve the housing crisis

How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:

Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer as long-term rentals instead.

New Zealand's tourism industry has come to a standstill as the country responds to the spread of coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for Trade Me said usually 6 per cent of Trade Me rental listings were offered furnished. But since March 14, when the self-isolation rules were first announced, that number had increased to 11 per cent.

"This puts the total number of fully furnished rental listings at double what they were at the time last year," she said.

"They are being advertised extensively across Facebook community groups at significantly discounted rents. Most come furnished and are often on six-month leases so that landlords have the option of putting the unit back on Airbnb if conditions have normalised again ahead of next summer," he said.

And of course, there's a huge concentration of them in Queenstown - one of the worst locations for the housing crisis. Now we're going to find out just how much of that scarcity is artificial, just how much misery is being inflicted for the profit of a tiny class of hoarders. And stopping that is something we might want to fix when this is all over.