Airbnb’s occupied by workers

By Emma Prior

With Victoria and Melbourne in particular experiencing large numbers of new COVID-19 cases, regional areas are concerned about visitors from Melbourne still travelling up to the area.

A Yarrawonga property owner, who has his Anchorage Way property near the Yarrawonga Yacht Club listed on the popular Airbnb holiday rental site, contacted the Yarrawonga Chronicle last week to assure the community that whilst his property was occupied it is by workers of a project being established between Benalla and Yarrawonga. 

“I know of at least 70 employees of the same works that were looking for semi-permanent accommodation whilst they worked on the construction,” Jarrod said.

“For our particular residence we had three enquires of up to eight guests and the people that are now staying there have already been in the property for six weeks to two months and will be there for another couple of months at least.

“I also know of another three groups from the same construction work that are now staying in other Airbnb properties in town. 

“Especially where our property is with a lot of foot traffic, we just want the people of Yarrawonga Mulwala to know that our property in particular and a number of others in town that we know about are being occupied at the moment, but are occupied with workers, not holiday makers.”

The Airbnb website also lists an initiative during these trying times where hosts are offering their properties to doctors, nurses, and other frontline responders, so they can stay close to their work or safely distanced from their own families.

Around 191 properties are listed for hire on the Airbnb website for Yarrawonga Mulwala.

Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Australia Derek Nolan said Airbnb are doing what they can to ensure the Airbnb community are following government guidelines. 

“Airbnb is extremely serious about supporting government and police efforts to combat COVID-19,” Mr Nolan said. 

“As part of this support, we have contacted our community on multiple occasions to remind them of the critical need to follow government advice and adhere to the rules.

“We want to stress that the overwhelming majority of our community is doing the right thing - and we thank them for doing their part to combat COVID-19.

“Our message has been consistent and clear: everyone must closely follow government advice and strictly adhere to the rules.

“Additionally, Airbnb has also been actively discouraging hosts from inappropriately marketing listings using terms related to COVID-19, such as ‘quarantine’. 

“These hosts are being asked to update their listings accordingly and Airbnb may suspend or remove listings that have inappropriate titles or listing content.

“We do continue to see people turning to Airbnb during times of genuine need, from healthcare and relief workers who need to be closer to work as they combat COVID-19, those who are between permanent residences or cannot commit to long-term leases due to economic uncertainty, to those who have been forced to secure alternative accommodation for emergency reasons. 

“These are just some of the many essential reasons people are currently using short-term rental accommodation during this challenging time.”