South Florida should build more homes, not blame vacation rentals for high rents

For decades, hotels and vacation rentals have helped welcome visitors to South Florida and, in turn, supported one of the state’s biggest job-creating industries: tourism.

Given this story, it’s disappointing to see the January 13 editorial, “Rent in Miami is way too high. Airbnb and Vrbo can make things worse‘ suggest that short-term rentals may be driving rising rental prices in South Florida.

Vacation rentals have been a staple of Florida’s tourism industry for decades. While sites like Vrbo and Airbnb have helped increase the visibility of this type of accommodation, data from the US Census Bureau shows that the number of Florida vacation rentals has declined over the past decade.

According to the 2021 Census Bureau American Community Survey, Florida has approximately 830,000 “seasonal, recreational, or occasional” housing units. That’s the Bureau of Vacation Homes definition, and that number represents about 8% of the state’s 10 million housing units.

Those numbers represent a 5% reduction since 2010, when the number of units available for “seasonal, recreational, or occasional use” was 877,000, or about 10% of the state’s 9 million housing units at the time. ‘era.

In other words, the share of vacation rentals has been declining over the past decade – just as rental prices have been rising.

The simplest explanation for rising housing prices comes down to supply and demand. In Florida, the state’s population grew 16% between 2010 and 2021, but the number of housing units grew only 11% over the same period, or just 1% per year and not enough to meet demand.

These statistics are publicly available, yet Professor Ken H. Johnson of Florida Atlantic University based his thesis on the “liability of short-term rentals,” quoted in the editorial, not on data, but on “anecdotal evidence of [200] conversation. »

Credible research done on the impact of short-term rentals on housing costs shows that short-term rentals have minimal impact on rents. Even a report found that short-term rentals contribute to a rent increase of $40 per year per tenant, or about $3 per month.

Should communities have sensible regulations for short-term rentals, including registration and tax requirements? Absolutely, and many do, including Miami-Dade County.

Rents have gone up. And short-term rentals are popular. But confusing correlation with conversation-based causation and a rental index devoid of short-term rental data is misleading.

Building new housing and increasing density is politically difficult and often requires overcoming opposition from the NIMBY neighborhood. Simplistically blaming short-term rentals for rising rents only helps local leaders off the hook for their inability to build.

South Florida needs to emerge from its current housing crisis, not try to blame its exit.

Adam Kovacevich is the founder of the House of Progress, a center-left tech industry coalition.


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