Are Airbnbs Harming Neighborhoods? How they affect housing in the United States – NBC Boston

As U.S. cities face housing shortages, homes used as short-term rentals on Airbnb and other platforms are coming under intense scrutiny from residents and activists pushing cities to consider new regulations.

The available listing data and maps give some idea of ​​the potential impact of these Airbnbs and other short-term rentals on neighborhood housing, although it is widely acknowledged that this is not the only factor in the crisis. .

Major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have long had short-term rental laws, but, according to the data, these major cities are still grappling with the long-term impact of STRs.

Others, like Dallas, have seen a notable increase in short-term rentals in recent years and have recently set a timeline for new regulations affecting them.

Since 2019, the number of active short-term rentals in the city has increased by 56.6%, according to AirDNA, a company that collects and sells short-term rental data that includes listings from Airbnb and Vrbo.

Analysis of the short-term rental market by city

While major cities like New York and LA have seen a drop in STRs during the pandemic, cities like Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia have seen an increase.

How many short term rentals are there?

Housing activist Murray Cox launched the follow-up project Inside Airbnb in 2015, when he said he noticed gentrification and short-term rentals taking away housing in his Brooklyn neighborhood.

His Airbnb data collection project grew rapidly when he started receiving requests to cover other cities like San Francisco, Portland and London.

Although Airbnb does not publicly disclose its data at a granular level, Cox is one of many researchers who track the company’s listings by independently collecting information from the site. Inside Airbnb provides its research for free to community groups and activists. He also does research for government agencies and other groups. for an additional cost.

“Now I have data from 100 different cities and countries and I’m working to expand it to thousands more,” he said. “The mission is to add data to help communities understand the impact of short-term rentals and Airbnb.”

He has also become a vocal critic of the company’s impact on communities.

As cities like Dallas and Austin have become attractive places to live during the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge in short-term rentals has followed.

“Right now there’s a big fight going on with the residents,” Cox said of the state of STRs in Dallas.

Cox says his data shows there are ZIP codes in Dallas where 90% of available rental housing stock is Airbnbs and now people are pushing back. But, Airbnb says the statistic compares 2022 STR data to outdated 2016-2020 census data and that the ZIP code referred to is mostly comprised of commercially zoned properties.

It should be noted that not all Airbnb listings are available year-round. Some hosts may only offer their accommodations for rent on the platform for a few days a year. Airbnb says most hosts still share a single home and don’t operate multiple STR properties.

“The truth is, most hosts on Airbnb only share one home and the typical Dallas host earned $7,800 last year to help cover the rising cost of living,” said one. Airbnb spokesperson. “Airbnb has engaged with Dallas city leaders over the past two years to support efforts to develop fair short-term rental rules, including an improved check-in system to help the city comply and a tax collection agreement that allows platforms to collect and remit taxes on behalf of hosts.”

But Cox says the data shows that small towns aren’t immune to the rise in STRs that has been seen in larger cities across the country.

“Sometimes smaller towns and villages can be more vulnerable because they have less resources and less housing,” he said.

A researcher from AirDNA, the other tracking company, said there are fewer short-term rentals now than before the pandemic nationwide, but many smaller, larger cities like Philadelphia, Miami and San Diego have seen an increase in short-term rentals since before the pandemic. .

How housing availability stacks up in major cities

Each point equals 1%. Some counties have vacancies as low as 4% according to Census Bureau data.

How are short-term rentals contributing to the housing crisis?

Housing experts like Davide Proserpio say STRs like Airbnb are contributing to shrinking housing stock and rising rents. Although there are other short-term rental companies on the market, Airbnb eclipses any competition.

Assistant professor of marketing at the University of Southern California, Proserpio led extensive research on the subject.

Proserpio says areas with lots of non-owner occupied Airbnbs are the ones that should be looked at more closely. These are short term rentals where the host does not stay in the unit.

“Basically, if you have a non-owner occupied unit, you were more likely to rent in the long-term rental market and relocate to the short-term rental market,” he said. .

Former and potential owners who have become “hosts” make more money this way, he says.

But Airbnb pushed back and said Proserpio’s study also found that short-term rental platforms can encourage residential development and that not all short-term rentals are the result of housing stock reallocation. from long term rentals to short term rentals.

Where are Airbnbs concentrated in major cities?

Airbnb in purple is $150+/night while Airbnbs in orange is less than $150/night. Use the drop-down menu to travel between cities.

Jamie Lane, a researcher at AirDNA, says demand is another major driver fueling the housing crisis. In major cities with stricter regulations like New York and Los Angeles, short-term rentals have seen a decline, but rental prices continue to climb to record highs.

“Cities with long-standing short-term rental rules, such as Boston, have found that despite the sharp decline in short-term rentals, rents have soared and the city’s short-term rental ordinance was associated with increased rental costs,” says Airbnb. “Leading housing experts agree that the driver of rising housing costs is that our country simply hasn’t built enough housing – that’s why the cost of housing is rising everywhere, for everyone. The focus needs to be on building more homes for people, and Airbnb wants to be part of that solution.

In Manhattan, the average rent topped $5,000 for the first time as the median rent set a record for the fifth consecutive month, according to a recent report by Douglas Elliman.

In New York City, renting an STR without a host also being present in the unit for less than 30 days is not permitted in buildings of three or more units.

But despite strict regulations, Cox says many hosts are bending the laws based on what he’s seen as an activist working with communities across the country.

Researchers and activists like Cox recognize that STRs are only part of the larger housing crisis.

What are legislators doing to address community concerns?

Unsupervised Airbnbs have resulted in well-reported issues of public nuisance and property destruction in parts of the country, including Miami, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Airbnb says they ask their hosts not to break the law with their listings and recently introduced new methods to crack down on unauthorized parties that have fueled public complaints. Some of them have also resulted in fatalities in Airbnb rentals.

“We ask all hosts to follow local short-term rental rules, and we’ve worked with many cities on specific compliance rules,” Airbnb said.

“Over the past decade, Airbnb has worked with hundreds of cities to put in place regulations that balance the economic opportunities created by short-term rentals while protecting housing and supporting local tourism, and we are committed to do the same moving forward,” they said. continued.

Small towns are also starting to write their own regulations after seeing the growth of Airbnbs and other short-term rental services like Vrbo in their areas.

Some cities already have fines of over $7,000 per violation for ignoring laws, but those laws are difficult to enforce.

Cox says hosts often don’t bother to register their rentals with the city, making it difficult to enforce laws and monitor the presence of STRs.

STR regulations are unique in each city. Here’s how they differ.

Atlanta is another major city currently trying to regulate Airbnbs and other STRs with a prescription which limits hosts to owning only two short-term rental units, one of which is their primary residence. Hosts will also need to obtain a license.

The law was due to come into effect earlier this year in March, but the deadline has been extended twice. The city now says the ordinance may need further review and the current enforcement date is set for September 6, 2022.

Lane, who is based in Atlanta, assumes the delays are due to a lack of compliance.

“There haven’t been a lot of hosts actually getting their licenses,” Lane said. “They didn’t want to enforce a law that no one was following initially.”

Airbnb is just one piece of the housing puzzle

While short-term rentals are an issue for many lawmakers, Proserpio notes that even if Airbnb were to disappear tomorrow, there’s no guarantee these short-term rentals would be part of the long-term housing stock.

He favors taking a broader view and weighing the good with the bad when it comes to short-term rentals. Airbnbs and other STRs provide taxes and revenue to cities that could be used to help address housing affordability issues.

“I know a lot of people, and especially policy makers, only focus on the negatives of Airbnb,” Proserpio said. “I think we should consider a more holistic approach and try to understand all the effects generated by Airbnbs before creating policies.”

Copy edited by Andrew V. Pestano and Kelly Whitney

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