Is Airbnb Causing a Spike in Rents?

A report commissioned by the Hotel Trades Council and several neighborhood organizations says that Airbnb is driving up home rental prices in New York City.  According to this article about the report, Airbnb listings have removed between 7,000 and 13,500 housing units from circulation in the past three years and have increased the city’s median rent by $380 a year.

The article also points out that it is against the law for landlords to rent out an entire apartment in a multi-unit building for less than 30 days. If landlords do, they face hefty fines meant to deter them from renting to tourists and taking business from hotels and to keep the apartments available for permanent housing.

Last year Airbnb, which disputes the studies results, released its own economic impact study that shows Airbnb rentals in New York last year served 2 million guests and generated $3.5 billion in economic activity.

While this research is focused on New York, it does bring up an interesting consideration for all municipalities. Housing affordability is an issue across the country, including here in the Triad, and while Airbnb is not likely having the same level of impact in our local cities, it is likely to be a cause for concern among local governments, who are already grappling with housing affordability, if they perceive any units being removed from the housing stock to be used as “vacation rentals.” They will be very interested in trying to keep as many units as possible available for permanent housing.

For its part, Airbnb says it supports new state (NY) legislation that would prevent hosts from listing more than one property on Airbnb’s site.