EFFIE BATEMAN Lifestyle Contact

A local man has this month single-handedly solved the rental crisis in his city, by spending his nights perusing the streets looking for lock boxes he could demolish with a pair of bolt cutters.

For those who are unaware of the significance of lock boxes, these boxes tend to signify that a house is being used as an Airbnb, with guests being given a code by the owner to gain access to house keys. In high-density cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, it’s not uncommon to see streets with multiple attached to fences.

Though the platform was originally designed to allow people to utilise unused space, such as a spare room or a granny flat, Airbnb has since turned into a short-term letting market that allows wealthier individuals to make a quick buck.

It’s alleged that roughly 50% of existing Airbnbs nationwide were previously being held by long-term applicants, who were ousted in favour of converting the home into short-stay accommodation – because why get $350 a week when you can $350 in just a few days.

Popular tourist destinations such as Byron Bay and Hobart now see Airbnb rentals taking up almost the equivalent of nearly half the town’s rental market, which has naturally driven up the prices of the properties that are available to be rented.

Of course, Airbnb can not be solely blamed for causing the nation’s rental crisis, though it does manifest as a symptom of a greater issue – housing being seen as an opportunity to commodify, and not a human right.

Luckily, Betoota Heights local Ian Burke is doing his part to help the community, by starting a one-man vigilante gang.

“Look, I don’t hate Airbnb”, says Ian, as he hacks at a nearby lockbox, “In fact, I think it’s a great idea.”

“I remember using it a few years ago when I was looking for a job in Melbourne. Ended up staying in a lovely old bloke’s spare room for a couple of weeks.”

“Unfortunately, because humans tend to be greedy and look out for their self-interest, its altruistic origins have warped into something a little more insidious.”

“It’s no longer just some old mate who can make a couple of hundred a week by renting out a room, or someone renting out their home for the summer holidays.”

“It’s greedy landlords who see no issue kicking out tenants in favour of tripling their revenue.”

“You’re not helping the community.”

“You’re replacing them.”

More to come.


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