L.A. short-term rental inventory has plunged in last four months

Steep listings drop corresponds with city’s new Airbnb law

It’s harder these days to find a short-term stay in L.A.
It’s harder these days to find a short-term stay in L.A.

Los Angeles city officials spent years debating a legislative crackdown on Airbnb. In a few short months, the legislation they passed already has an apparent effect: a rapid decline in the number of Airbnb and other home share listings.

City of L.A. listings on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms have plunged 49 percent since a city ordinance regulating short-term stays went into effect in November, according to a city of Los Angeles controller’s report.

The report released Monday warned the steep drop in short-term stays could have “a future negative impact” on city revenue collected via the “bed tax,” in which hotel and homeshare service guests pay the city a 12-percent tax on their nightly occupancy cost.

The bed tax from short-term rental platforms alone netted $62.7 million in city coffers for the 2018-19 fiscal year, per the report. The controller’s office conservatively predicts that figure will tumble 20 percent in the coming year.

According to a spokesman for city controller Ron Galperin, the eye-popping 49 percent number is based on city Planning Commission figures tracking 36,700 short-term listings in November and 18,700 such listings on February 1. In other words, the number of listings could have dropped yet further in the past month.

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The city numbers lend clarity to the sometimes cloudy subject of short-term stay inventory in Los Angeles, which was on the rise until the past few months. However, whether the city ordinance is having a larger than intended effect on increasing L.A.’s housing supply and decreasing rental costs remains to be seen.

The regulations implemented Nov. 1 restrict short-term rentals to a host’s primary residence (though tweaks to this are being considered). The ordinance also bans short-stay rentals of rent-stabilized apartments and limits listings to 120 reservations per year.

A McGill University study from December acknowledged an early decline in L.A. short-stay listings, but questioned if the city is effectively ferreting out non-compliant short-term hosts.

The city planning commission claimed in a letter last month to the City Council that they are targeting rogue short-term stay hosts. Of the 6,000 hosts sent warning letters stating they were non-compliant, 4,800 either properly registered or removed their unit from the city inventory, officials said.

The letter also notes the city hasn’t filed citations against hosts in violations of the law, but plans to “within the next few weeks.”

Unclear is how much of a financial hit San Francisco-headquartered Airbnb is taking for the city crackdown. A message left with the company Monday was not immediately returned.