National Seniors Australia has voiced its support for a partnership announced yesterday between the NSW Government and Airbnb to encourage more seniors to sign up to the home sharing platform.
But Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said involvement as hosts could have some serious impacts for retirees and pensioners, who should seek detailed advice before opening their homes to paying guests.
“On the surface, this looks like a great way to meet new people and earn some extra income,” Mr Henschke said.
“We know some seniors are struggling financially, so this could be a solution to money problems or even just be a fun thing to do.
“But we want them to be aware that there are tax implications and we’d urge people to do their homework first. It’s one of the reasons National Seniors Financial Information Desk is kept busy with calls from members.
“It could impact pensioners under the means tests in terms of income generated and lead to their pension being reduced. It could also mean part of their home becomes an assessable asset under the assets test if an area, such as a bedroom or self-contained flat, is earmarked for use purely for Airbnb guests.
“A third possible impact is that they may be subject to capital gains tax if they subsequently sell their primary home after using it for Airbnb.”
Mr Henschke urged older Australians considering becoming Airbnb hosts to first seek advice from a tax accountant and the Department of Human Services (Centrelink – 13 23 00).
“It’s vital they know all the implications before becoming a digital age entrepreneur with Airbnb,” he said.
NSW Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies yesterday announced an Australian-first pilot program, where NSW Seniors Card holders will receive a $100 cash reward when they sign up as an Airbnb host and successfully complete their first booking of three nights or more.
“This innovative partnership not only creates real economic opportunities for NSW seniors but also keeps them socially connected to their communities,” Mrs Davies said.
“By welcoming travellers from across Australia and the world into their homes, seniors have the power to ease their cost of living and reduce social isolation.”
NSW Seniors Card holders will also be eligible for a $20 Airbnb credit when they book as a guest for the first time via the Airbnb website.
Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh said to help NSW seniors take full advantage of the rewards on offer; free digital literacy workshops would be held in Manly, Parramatta, Liverpool, Penrith, Orange, and the South Coast.
“Older people are the most ‘loved’ or highest rated hosts on Airbnb,” Mr McDonagh said. “With 85 per cent of these stays receiving five-star reviews, we want to encourage more seniors to turn their empty nests into income engines.”
The success of the six-month pilot program will be evaluated with a view to form a 12-month partnership that will offer further benefits to NSW Seniors Card holders.
To access the Airbnb offer or view terms and conditions, visit www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au.
Ian Henschke is available for interview.
Media contact: Lynda Schekoske 0488 047 380 or Rosemary Desmond (07) 3233 9106.