July 30, 2015
New York Communities for Change/Real Affordability for All have issued a housing report, Airbnb in NYC. This is an advocacy piece that raises important questions about how Airbnb is changing the nature of housing markets in a hot destinations. The report states that
A new independent analysis of Airbnb’s website by www.InsideAirbnb.com shows that nearly 16,000 or just under 60% of Airbnb listings are entire homes or apartments for rent (in violation of state law and/or NYC zoning laws), and that they are available for rent an average of 247 days a year. To put that in perspective, those 16,000 Airbnb listings that are not available for everyday New Yorkers would be the equivalent of a loss of approximately one full year of Mayor de Blasio’s ten-year plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units, negating nearly all of the affordable apartments the administration has financed in the past year.
Despite Airbnb’s claims that the nearly 90 percent of their listings are from regular New Yorkers renting out spare rooms to make extra cash, the InsideAirbnb.com data show that nearly one-third of Airbnb listings come from hosts with multiple units, such as commercial landlords. (3)
While Airbnb has criticized the methodology of this report, it does appear to undercut Airbnb’s characterization of its hosts.
Opponents of the sharing economy will find a lot in this report that confirms their concerns. For instance, in the top 20 Airbnb zip codes in NYC, “housing units are rented on Airbnb for rates equivalent to more than 300% of the neighborhood’s average rent.” (5)
But supporters of the sharing economy will also find much to confirm their own views: “In 20 different zip codes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, entire/home/apartment Airbnb listings comprise at least 10% of total rentals.” (5) Supporters will say that the people have spoken with their pocketbooks — the sharing economy is here to stay, notwithstanding what the law says.
The sharing economy continues to shake up the old economy. The fact that so many Airbnb listings in NYC appear to violate the law means that the controversy over its appropriate role will probably come to a head sooner rather than later. The outcome of that controversy will then spill over and permeate the hottest residential neighborhoods in the hottest cities in the U.S.| Permalink