The co-founders of BnbGuard: Reuben Schwarz (left) and Richard Frey (Right) / BnbGuard

Council's secret weapon in war on Airbnb cheats

Only around one-in-five liable Airbnb hosts is paying Auckland Council's new bed tax, according to figures revealed by the Herald yesterday.

Earlier this month, the council estimated there were 8300 Airbnb properties in Auckland, with 3800 liable for the bed tax (hosts are exempt if they rent out their property for fewer than 28 days per year) - of whom 1285 had been identified.

Airbnb told the Herald yesterday - revealing its numbers for the first time - that it in fact had 11,300 active listings in Auckland, with more than half or 5650 taking bookings of 33 nights a year or more, making them liable for the new tax, which kicked in last August and can double or triple a rates bill.

urrently, council staff are manually trawling through listings on online accommodation sites, and phoning hosts.

But the process is slow and tricky given the new tax is based on a number of variables including how many nights are booked. Plus, new Airbnb hosts are appearing all the time. Current hosts can hop between letting part or whole of their house, or jump between services.

How to keep tabs on things? Enter Reuben Schwarz, co-founder of BnbGuard, billed as Australasia's first service for monitoring online Airbnb listings for unauthorised subletting.

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