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Airbnb property owners switch to long-term rentals

Owners of Airbnb properties are switching to longer term renting, as tourism slumps following the coronavirus pandemic.

Auckland based Airbnb property manager Zodiak has lost more then a third of its clients since the pandemic.

Managing director Stefan Nikolic said before the lockdown it managed 80 Airbnb apartments in Auckland's central business district, but 30 properties had been lost since the pandemic hit.

Normally, they have 300 bookings a month, but last month that dropped to 60 bookings, cutting their profits by 70 per cent.

"I thought there would be more interest after the lockdown, people keen to get out and do some travelling, leave their homes," Nikolic said.

"There are some bookings, but definitely not the kind of massive resurgence I was hoping for."

Zodiak received $21,088.80 from the government's wage subsidy scheme, Nikolic said.

His former customers are holding on to investment properties, but are now looking to the long term rental market or choosing to manage their properties on Airbnb themselves to save on fees.

"If they're switching to long term rental, it will be temporarily for maybe three to six months, before switching back to short-term rentals.

"Likewise with [people who are now managing their own Airbnbs] they will probably switch back to a management company hopefully."

Those who stuck with Airbnb would be well positioned when demand eventually picked up again, Nikolic said.

Until then, he is trying to stir up interest in domestic travel by slashing the nightly rates of the properties he manages.

In a statement, Airbnb Australia and New Zealand manager Susan Wheeldon said Covid-19 had disrupted the tourism industry, but it would bounce back.

"Covid-19 has caused significant hardship for the everyday people who rely on sharing their home for extra income and, understandably, this means some have to make really difficult choices based on their personal circumstances," Wheeldon said.

"To help ease this hardship, we recently announced a US$250 million fund to help accommodation hosts impacted by Covid-19 related cancellations, as well as a US$17 million Superhost Relief Fund that's been largely personally funded by our founders."

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