June 27, 2016
Short-term rental companies like Airbnb are flooding New York City’s housing market, reducing available housing stock citywide by 10%, a new study has revealed.
More than 55% of rooms or apartments listed on Airbnb in New York are illegal, according to the report, which is the result of research by two affordable housing advocacy groups: Housing Conservation Coordinators, and MFY Legal Services.
The report focused on what it called “impact listings”, defined as entire home or apartment listings rented out illegally by commercial hosts, either multiple units for at least three months a year or single listings rented for at least six months a year.
The authors found 8,000 units fitting that description, the report says, noting that the landlords or hosts made more than $300m from renting them out short-term. If such units were returned to the rental market, according to the report, the number of vacant units available to rent citywide would rise 10%.
It has become increasingly difficult for New Yorkers to find affordable housing. A 2014 study by the office of the city comptroller found that median rent in the city rose by 75%, almost double the national average, between 2000 and 2012. Real income declined in the same period.
Marti Weithman, executive director of MFY Legal Services and one of the authors of the report, said the figures were conservative, representing the minimum impact on affordable housing of Airbnb, based on the company’s own data.
For her, a significant finding was that 30% of Airbnb’s listings in New York City were listed by commercial hosts.
“They are the biggest, baddest actors on Airbnb and other platforms,” she said. “And that is the trend that we are seeing – multiple units being taken off the rental market in a single building.”
Some of those were listed by landlords, Weithman said, and some by third-party operators who rent the apartment in order to then list it on Airbnb or similar sites.
For Liz Krueger, a Democratic state senator representing New York’s 28th district, the data reinforced what she has been seeing and hearing in complaints from residents in her district for “an extended period of time”.
In her district, Manhattan’s Upper East Side, according to the report, Airbnb and other peer-to-peer short-term rental sites were taking up 17% of what would otherwise be available rental stock. Average rent in the area had increased by 12% between 2011 and 2015.
Krueger said: “It’s taking apartments off the market, it’s increasing rental costs for those people trying to rent apartments, it is shrinking supply, it’s creating situations where tenants are being harassed by landlords who conclude it’s cheaper or more profitable to rent out by the night as illegal hotel operations than to continue their legal responsibilities to keep the apartments for residents.”
Representatives for Airbnb did not respond to a request for comment.