Report: Airbnb listings removed up to 13,500 long-term rentals in NYC over past three years

January 30, 2018

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Airbnb is responsible for the loss of between 7,000 and 13,500 long-term rental units in New York City while increasing the median long-term rent in the city by $380 a year, says a new report from McGill University. The study, commissioned by the union Hotel Trades Council, also found 87 percent of entire-home reservations are considered illegal under state law (h/t Politico NY). Mayor Bill de Blasio last year announced his plan to expand the city’s Office of Special Enforcement to crack down on illegal short-term rentals; it is illegal for NYC landlords to rent entire apartments for fewer than 30 days.

Using data from September of 2014 through last August, researcher David Wachsmuth along with the team at the university’s School of Urban Planning, based findings on properties in frequent use on Airbnb, defined as those available for 120 days and occupied for 60 days. Wachsmuth discovered 12,200 entire homes listed were rented frequently in the last year of the study, which removes the units from the long-term rental market or puts them at high risk for removal.

The study also looks at Airbnb as a tool of “racial gentrification.” According to the report, across all 72 predominantly black New York City neighborhoods, Airbnb hosts are five times more likely to be white. Notably, in those same neighborhoods, the Airbnb host population is 74 percent white, while the white resident population is only 14 percent white.

The study implies that in neighborhoods with a strong tourist demand, owners of apartments are incentivized to convert the units into short-term rentals to make money. Instead of replacing tenants when they leave or get evicted, landlords see a quick and cheap way to take in higher rents.

Researchers looked at the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bed-Stuy and East New York to understand the relationship between Airbnb and gentrification. Both areas have seen a huge jump in frequently listed, entire home listings, with the number increasing from 310 to 610 listing in Bed-Stuy and from 12 to 45 listings in East New  York. The study suggests this jump is responsible for an increase in rent, while benefiting the minority of white Airbnb hosts and placing the burden on the neighborhood’s black residents.

Airbnb disputes the methodology of the report and questioned the findings. Both city and state officials have attempted to curb short-term Airbnb rentals.  In April, de Blasio said the city will spend an extra $2.9 million over the next two fiscal years, adding 16 staffers to the 32-member team that investigates illegal listings. In June of 2016, the state legislature extended a bill that bans illegal short-term rentals and imposes a fine of up to $7,500 for breaking it.

In a statement, Josh Meltzer, head of Airbnb’s Northeast policy, said: “Although inconvenient for this author’s anti-home-sharing bias, Airbnb supports legislation that would restrict home sharing to one single home, which would finally allow enforcement to focus on illegal hotel operators while protecting regular New Yorkers who are trying to make some extra money to live in a city that gets more expensive by the year.”

[Via Politico NY]


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