When Airbnb landed in Oz, it revolutionised the way travellers were able to see Australia.
And now, a new company is working to extend this kind of experience, taking to the backyards of Aussie folk.
Homecamp is designed to connect travellers with owners of substantial backyards, in a bid to create more affordable accommodation alternatives for anyone with a tent or campervan.
In its first two months alone, the start-up rustled up over 200 properties down under, from Sydney’s inner city to the countryside of Melbourne.
And stretching beyond Aussie shores, the Sydney-based company is now starting to pop up in countries like New Zealand, France, South Africa, Canada, Sweden and the US.
Homecamp started when founders David Abitbol and Audrey Krukoff were road tripping around Australia, constantly unsure of where they’d next be parking their campervan.
After chatting with a few locals and setting up camp in their respective backyards, the idea of Homecamp came to life.
“We’d been travelling for a year in Australia and we literally fell in love of the country,” Abitbol told Travel Weekly.
“As we’re avid campers, nature lovers, and surfers, Australia is the perfect playground for us and that’s what originally gave us the idea to do this project in the country.”
“The camping market in Australia is significant. Camping nights in Australia represents $ 1.4 billion, and 85% of Australians have camped at least once in their lifetime. Half of all Australians have visited a camp site in the past 2 years.
“Camping, and travelling around is a part of the Aussie culture, and that’s why Homecamp makes sense here in Australia.”
On average the platform’s users pay $30 for each night of their stay. Payment is made between the host and customer in person, however, online transactions and insurance will be available in the coming months.
But for the slightly more sceptical, or the general law-conscious citizens, there are still a few questions relating to the legality of Homecamp.
In order to establish a safe booking that both host and campers feel comfortable with, Abitbol suggests speaking to each other well in advance of the actual booking dates.
“It is always worthwhile speaking on the phone with an interested visitor to make sure that the host offering meets their requirements and so that the host can get a feel for them,” he said.
“The hosts can also take precautions such as charging a deposit or bond and collecting their personal details including car licence and plate numbers.”
In the coming months, Homecamp also hopes to set up a reviewing system, insurance, and the collection of ID info to bring the safety standards up a notch.
“Our aim is for both, the traveller and the property owner to have a safe and enjoyable experience using Homecamp,” Abitbol said.
But according to a story that popped up on SMH, the company could still potentially run into a few legal issues.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment requires caravan sites and camping grounds to be approved by their local council.
In addition, SMH writes that under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993, approval is contingent on the site complying with a wide range of rules and regulations, including access to amenities and fire safety.
A site may be exempy, however, if there are fewer than two tents on it for a maximum of 60 days a year, according to SMH.
A spokesman for Waverley Council told Fairfax Media residents who want to rent parts of their property as short-term accommodation would need to seek approval.
“Council investigates complaints about the illegal use of properties, which are being used as short term accommodation without approval,” SMH reported.
“Where appropriate fines are issued and in some cases legal action is taken.”
When asked about this issue, Abitbol said that while extensive, their research hasn’t covered all Aussie camping and property rules.
“We haven’t checked every single council in Australia, but we’ve done heaps of research,” he said.
“Camping on private properties is most of the time allowed, under certain conditions, often referring to the duration of the stay, and the use of the amenities. As the regulations differ across Australia, depending on your state or council, it is worthwhile checking to make sure that you stay on the right side of the law. So far, we haven’t had any issues.”
So for any backpackers, grey nomads or families looking for more affordable alternatives to exxy hotels, or people wanting to cash in on their backyards and driveways, Homecamp is a free platform – for now at least!
Abitbol says they plan on monetising the platform soon by taking a percentage booking fee.