Airbnb ran listings for more than 8,000 virtual hotel rooms in 2015: report

Housing advocacy groups argue billion-dollar startup chews up 10 percent of the city’s rental supply

TRD New York /
Jun.June 28, 2016 01:57 PM

More than 8,000 units were listed on Airbnb so long last year their operators could buy mints in bulk, according to a new report by a pair of housing advocacy groups.

A total of 8,058 “impact listings” were rented out as virtual hotels for short stays for more than a third of the year, according to the report commissioned by MFY Legal Services and Housing Conservation Coordinators.

The report calculated that if those apartments were on the open market, they would increase the city’s stock of rentals by 10 percent, according to the New York Post.

Last year, The Real Deal calculated that roughly 2,400 to 4,600 units, or about 8 to 17 percent of all Airbnb listings, were operated as commercial units.

The housing advocates’ recent study found that 56 percent of the controversial startup’s 51,397 listings were for an entire apartment or home for a period of fewer of 30 days.

State law makes it illegal to rent an apartment for such short stays if the lease holder isn’t home, and earlier this month the state Legislature passed a bill that would make it illegal to advertise such listings on Airbnb and other similar sites.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet signed the bill.

During a rally outside City Hall coinciding with the report’s release, Public Advocate Letitia James – one of the billion-dollar startup’s vocal critics – said Airbnb’s business is “swallowing up affordable housing units, forcing New Yorkers from their homes and precipitating a spike in homelessness, unprecedented since the Great Depression.”

Airbnb has long contended that its platform provides middle-class New Yorkers with the opportunity to earn additional income, and company spokesperson Peter Schottenfels accused the hotel industry of backing what he called a “misleading study.”

“We need to work together to find solutions that actually benefit middle-class New Yorkers, including how to protect responsible home sharers, rather than protecting the interests of the well-connected hotel industry,” he said.

The recent report said that 90 percent of Airbnb listings are in Brooklyn and Manhattan, with the East Village and Williamsburg the most popular neighborhoods.

Commercial hosts who rented multiple units for at least three months a year or had one listing up for half a year pulled in $317.5 million in annual revenue, the housing groups’ report found. [NYP] – Rich Bockmann

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