What you need to know about Airbnb

Airbnb is the popular home sharing service that allows travellers to ‘live like a local’. For property owners, it can be a lucrative source of income.

My personal Airbnb experiences have been good ones - cooking your own meals, access to a home laundry, the extra space… It all has an impact on the enjoyment of a holiday. However, I’ve also heard plenty of horror stories, and now some councils are cracking down and prohibiting use of the service.

Luckily, we have these Airbnb tips for both travellers and property owners to help ensure a successful Airbnb experience. Do you use Airbnb, and if so, what is your experience?

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Hi Brendan. I’m a host and a traveller who has used Airbnb, and my experiences have been, for the most part, very good. But like you, I’ve heard friends say they’ve had bad experiences.

As a host, I can’t fault the system. Airbnb takes the money as soon as people book, whether it’s six days or six months in advance - that alone must give them a huge profit from the interest. The host is not paid until 24 hours after a guest books in, but depending on your bank or credit union, you receive the payment within a couple of days - I’ve had no problems. As a traveller, you have to pay way in advance if you book way in advance, but it means the accommodation is booked and secure.

Airbnb send reminders to the host and the traveller about the bookings, and send reminders to the host as well as the guest to do a review .

Negatives - they charge approx. 3% service fee to the host, and a whopping 12% service fee to the guest. When this is added on to your reasonable charges, it sometimes doesn’t look that reasonable.
Secondly, they send irritating emails if you have gaps in your bookings about reducing your price, and sent me a notice recently saying comparable places near us were rented way below what we were asking, but don’t give us those addresses so that we could check they were comparable (some places say they can accommodate six people, but it is on trundles, or sofa beds in small houses, so is this comparable?).
Just some thoughts.

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Thanks @gwendolen.johnson, the input is appreciated :+1:

I’m also an avid AirBnB user and have had good experiences for the most part. I’ve used it both here in Oz and overseas (most recently in Beijing). As someone with a medical condition that has strict dietary requirements, having a kitchen provides me peace of mind while travelling - something a hotel or BnB can’t necessarily do. I’ve found the the communication AirBnB facilitates is efficient and to the point - I’ve never needed to clarify anything and the hosts have always been responsive and polite.

Sometimes I’ve had the occasional problem where I’ve booked and been rejected after booking, which is frustrating if you’ve confirmed and payment has been lodged but the host then changes their mind. This wouldn’t happen with a hotel booking.

The other point of confusion I had in China was whether I needed to go an register myself with immigration - AirBnB didn’t provide any advice on this. Was I staying in a private home? Was I in registered accommodation? I wasn’t quite sure and they let me out of the country so I guess it was OK!

Overall I much prefer the authenticity and convenience of staying AirBnB when I travel. In Beijing I stayed in a hutong courtyard apartment - not something I would have experienced in a hotel. It was beautiful and traditional and really added something extra to my holiday.


Here is some further personal experience that readers may find of interest: I live in a large apartment complex, and over the past year we’ve seen some units that are rented out to Airbnb users (we can look these apartments up on the site and sometimes chat to our short term neighbours).

In most cases, visitors are quiet and respectful. However, of course there are people that come through that can cause quite a bit of trouble in terms of damage and threatening behaviour. To my mind it is a gap in the system, as while hosts can give guests that behave badly a poor rating, unless there is damage to the inside of the unit, they may not realise that other problems have occurred.

Just an idea, but for anyone hosting Airbnb guests - I’d encourage you to drop a note into your neighbour’s letterboxes with some content details to form a relationship and in case your neighbours aren’t savvy enough to find your details on the Airbnb site. I believe it’s of mutual benefit because local residents can be your eyes on the ground, and if there are serious problems, it avoids police involvement and resident frustration (possibly contributing to council bans).


Here’s a new article on Homestay booking sites designed to save some dollars.

I’ve used them a couple of times. Experience has generally been good, but my advice would be to actually clarify any points you feel strongly about. We had a night in a house only to find we were one of three couples in the house along with the owner - the house was advertised as sole occupancy. It wasn’t a disaster, it was nice and we had heaps of room (house was huge, had been internally divided and was a hundred years old) and privacy wasn’t an issue in the end.

What got my attention in this article is ‘councils cracking down’ - really? just what the nanny state needs is more government controls? Honestly, so long as parking isn’t an issue, what people choose to do with their properties be it live there, rent them out, or bnb them, is their business surely? Councils should focus on ‘councily things’, like collecting rubbish, chasing stray dogs, and de-turding the local public swimming pool … the seemingly boundless stretch of legislation and control at all levels of government is surely not a good use of our rates and taxes … bah ! :slight_smile:

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Hi @draughtrider the NSW parliamentary inquiry into ‘short term holiday letting’ has recently handed down it’s recommendations to ‘lighlty regulate’ the industry. Basically so homeowners can rent their homes out on Airbnb without the risk of council fines.

The NSW government will take these recommendations to a public consultation phase to discuss how the industry should be regulated. So if you’re interested in how it’s regulated in that state, or the implications for other states, it’s worth keeping an eye on.


Well YOU have not had groups of 15 - 25 party animals arrive next door to you Friday afternoon and party on the deck until 4 am for two days. Vile behaviour, loud, foul mouthed and totally illegal under the Residential zoning. Council? On the side of the real estate industry and scumbag landlords.
After more than 3 years of receiving “no legislation” letters from my deadbeat council it closed down the illegal use of residential homes in a week. It always had the ability to do this but sold out the community.

We have use Airbnb overseas and it worked for us too. Just remember that we may be excellent people but it takes all sorts to make a world and some are out there to cause havoc. Young people are high risk tenants and your neighbours will pay the price…as will landlords who continually are left with the mess and the cost of repairs.


One does not to be young to be inconsiderate of others/neighbours. Possibly party house more likely to involve the young though.


Don’t take offence as just making an observation after 3 years of hell. It was indeed bucks and hens on almost every occasion. Did have one group of middle aged hens but that was the exception not the rule.
At any rate the real issue was that whoever it was it should never have been permitted.
Airbnb is having this issue all over the world as well as pricing locals out of homes.


I’m not sure what they do if you are alone and decide to play some Bowie or Floyd at ‘appropriate levels’ …


So many places this could be added, but it is something prospective users need to be aware of. I’ll cross link this.

As it up to the host/business, it is recommended prior to booking that a message is sent confirming the individual host’s COVID cancellation policy. It is best to have this in writing than hope a host/business is favourable after one has to cancel because of COVID.


My Suncorp Home & Contents insurance has this on the invoice

" Important Change! From this renewal, your policy will not provide any cover if your property is used for short term rental, holiday letting or house sharing, this includes any arrangement made through online booking platforms, for example, Airbnb, Stayz.

If this applies to you, do not pay this account. For help finding another insurer, call the Insurance Council of Australia on …"

Doesn’t worry us as we have never engaged in this, but it looks like Suncorp are pulling right out of this market.

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Not necessarily. If you are renting your property out on short term basis you are running a business. So you get the appropriate insurance.

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We have heard there are a lot of retail insurers will be moving out of the short term ‘business’ type inclusion in home and contents insurance. A hydrid domestic house and contents/landlord insurance will be needed as a minimum and getting insurance may not be as easy as it once was.

If a short term guest provides any food (irrespective if cooked or not), they will need a food licence and insurance which provides for food service (which domestic insurance doesn’t). These food service insurance can be expensive expecially if the hosts are unskilled in relation to its provision.

I suspect the insurance industry is closing a loophole by making any short term accommodation provider a business and not a hobby. There will be some that will 'scream due to substantially higher insurance costs, and others who will scream when they find out they aren’t insured when something goes wrong.

Airbnb has host insurance, but cover it contains a lot of ‘mays’ and ‘exclusions’ and isn’t a general property insurance. One should check that their home and contents insurance isn’t voided as soon as a property is listed on Airbnbn (or any other accommodation booking platform)…otherwise things like theft, fire, storm damage may not have cover. Anyone planning to list their property/house on any booking platform should obtain reliable independent advice on the risks and requirements to ensure one is adequately protected.

Booking platforms are also starting to ask for short term accommodation (state/local) or planning approval numbers to ensure the accommodation is lawful, in those jurisdictions where approval is required. This poses another risk to those who take out any insurance but don’t have the necessary approvals in place to carry out the use lawfully.


This notice is on our Landlord insurance too. I went to the Suncorp site to see if there is anything (without going through the whole quote thing) but there is nothing in the FAQ or other articles that mention Share House or Airbnb, Stayz etc. It appears there is no Suncorp product for this scenario.

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It is likely one will need to deal directly with an insurance underwriter, rather than a retail insurer. May mean going to a broker who can deal and arrange insurance direct with an underwriter.

And it is likely to extend across their other brands: